Quite a number of fans Saturday night exited Bulldog City early in the fourth quarter of the Albuquerque Metro Basketball Championships boys final between Volcano Vista and Sandia.
They almost missed a remarkable comeback.
Third-ranked Sandia was down 17 points to No. 1-ranked Volcano Vista with six minutes remaining, but the relentless Matadors nearly came all the way back. They got as close as one with 6 seconds to go, but ran out of time as the unbeaten
Hawks barely survived Sandia 69-66 in a heated metro final at a jam-packed Albuquerque High.
“We know they’re tough,” said Volcano Vista 6-foot-7 sophomore forward Kenyon Aguino, who was 9-of-17 from the floor and led the Hawks with 25 points. “The last couple of times (we played them), they made runs on us, and we knew they’d come back on us. And they did.”
Volcano Vista (15-0) has won 44 straight games, dating to the opener of the 2021-22 season.
No. 44 seemed like a formality, with the Hawks owning a 56-39 lead with six minutes remaining. Then Sandia (11-3) — specifically, guards Dalen Moyer and Andrew Hill — began chucking in 3-pointers from all over Jim Hulsman Court in the final, stirring stretch run.
Those two combined for five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including three in the final 27 seconds. It was Hill twice, then Moyer, and the Matadors suddenly had shaved that 17-point deficit to 67-66 with six seconds left.
Volcano Vista called a timeout with 2 seconds left. The Hawks threw the inbounds pass far down the court, where Devon Ramos was fouled. He made two free throws with 0.3 seconds showing for the final margin; all of Ramos’ nine points came in the fourth quarter.
“With Sandia, anything’s possible,” Volcano Vista coach Greg Brown said. “They’re explosive. They can score a lot of points in a short period of time, and we saw that. We just had to hang in there and weather the storm.”
The Matadors are 0-3 against Volcano Vista this season, with losses by six, four and three points. Sandia is 11-0 against everyone else.
The Matadors started fast Saturday night. The game was tied at 26 when Volcano Vista scored the final seven of the first half over the final 4:25 of the second quarter. Aguino went to work in the third quarter; during one stretch, he scored 10 straight points for the Hawks and a 47-32 advantage late in the quarter.
Sandia was down nine with just 33 seconds left in the game.
“I’m pretty proud of my dudes,” said Sandia coach Danny Brown, Greg’s younger brother. “There’s a lot of good teams, but I feel like we’re right there.”
VOLCANO VISTA 69, SANDIA 66
VOLCANO VISTA (15-0): EJ Jordan 4, Anthony Gonzales 8, Hudson Brown 5, Devon Ramos 9, Rian Gonzales 6, Kenyon Aguino 25, Sean Alter 12. Totals 24 16-21 69.
SANDIA (11-3): Andrew Hill 23, Jahmil Johnson 3, Dalen Moyer 15, Thomas Adams 7, Lamarion Coleman 9, Ely Lovato 9. Totals 25 6-11 66.
Volcano Vista 20 13 17 19 — 69
Sandia 18 8 10 30 — 66
3-point goals: VV 5 (R.Gonzales 2, Ramos, Brown, A.Gonzales); S 10 (Hill 4, Moyer 3, Lovato, Adams, Johnson). Total fouls: VV 13; S 19.