It was going to happen sooner or later. And it finally happened Tuesday night.
The Volcano Vista High School girls basketball team hadn’t lost a game in 2 years and nearly 9 months, but the Hawks’ 46-game winning streak, which included the last two Class 5A state championships, came crashing down at the hands of the La Cueva Bears.
Visiting La Cueva responded to every challenge, and the sixth-ranked Bears played with grit and poise in the second half and managed what no one else had since Hobbs — on March 14, 2020 — as the Bears won 52-40 at No. 2-ranked Volcano Vista.
“I know the girls are excited,” La Cueva coach Marisa Cogan said. “Beating Volcano, who has been so dominant, is definitely a good feeling.”
The Hawks have been a thorn for everyone in 5A for two-plus years. It had been nearly 1,000 days since Volcano Vista lost a game — 997 days, to be exact, in the 2020 state finai.
“You know, it just didn’t go our way tonight, but what a run that was, right?” Hawks coach Lisa Villareal said.
How did the streak end?
It was a poor shooting night by Volcano Vista (4-1), for starters, which was ice cold from the start. “I could see the tide just not going in our favor,” Villareal said.
It was also a litany of turnovers. It was some foul trouble for Taejhuan Hill, the Hawks’ best player, a 6-foot forward with whom La Cueva (2-1) couldn’t match up.
But mostly, it was the Bears, who answered every challenge Volcano Vista threw at them. The Hawks pressed and trapped and went hard after La Cueva opened up as much as an 11-point lead in the third quarter.
But Volcano Vista, a team that graduated three of its four best players off the most recent championship team, just could not summon the run needed to overtake the Bears in the fourth quarter.
“We were kind of frazzled by their press in the first quarter,” said Cogan, “but once we were composed, we were able to pull away a little bit.”
No individual shot exemplified this more than the one launched by junior guard Toni Lucero in the fourth quarter. Her 3-pointer 30 seconds into the quarter put La Cueva in front 41-30.
And although Hill tried to keep the Hawks close — her lay-in with 3:11 remaining brought the Hawks to within 43-38 — La Cueva junior Eva Love scored the next five points and it was over.
“It was definitely a good win for us,” said Lucero, who led the Bears with 14 points. “Especially after our tough loss (last weekend) against Centennial. … We definitely learned from (playing Volcano Vista) last year. We did give them a run, but we tend to always fall apart. We really held our composure and took good shots and played smart.”
Hill had 15 points to lead Volcano Vista. Mari Manzanares added 11 points. Both Hill and Love for the Bears were dealing with foul trouble in the second half.
The teams meet again Dec. 20 at La Cueva.
“We definitely feel like we can compete with anyone in the state,” Lucero said.