The New Mexico high school state basketball tournament comes to a climactic finish Saturday with the Class 5A boys game between Volcano Vista and Sandia and the coaching brothers, Greg Brown (Volcano Vista) and Danny Brown (Sandia). The Hawks won 43-31, giving coach Greg Brown his fourth state title. This one came at the expense of his brother, Sandia coach Danny Brown.
The Journal has been on the scene all day and all week Check out the Twitter feeds of the Journal’s James Yodice, Lucas Peerman and the New Mexico Activities Association below. Check back here later for James’ game report and check here and in Sunday’s Journal print edition for exhaustive coverage of the tournament’s final day.
CLASS 5A BOYS
No. 1 VOLCANO VISTA 43, No. 2 SANDIA 31: Even one of the strangest-looking state championship games on record couldn’t interrupt Volcano Vista’s coronation as the Class 5A boys basketball state champion.
The top-seeded Hawks and No. 2 Sandia combined for the lowest-scoring big-school state final in the modern era, and the lowest scoring game in 71 years, but at the end, Volcano Vista found enough spark to beat the Matadors 43-31 for the state title before a large crowd Saturday night at the Pit.
Volcano Vista won state for the second straight season.
“Beyond words,” Hawks coach Greg Brown said. “We’ll find words, but a special night for our guys.”
The final pitted Brown against his brother Danny, the head coach at Sandia. There was much fanfare surrounding this meeting, the first for the brothers in a postseason environment.
After a lengthy handshake line when the game was over, the Browns hugged and shared a few words.
“He was just making sure I was OK,” Danny Brown said.
Sandia (26-6) led this game for the first 3½ quarters before finally being overtaken by the Hawks — and also being undone by awful shooting in the second half.
The Matadors, who led 21-15 at halftime, were 1 of 10 from the floor in the third quarter, 1 of 11 in the fourth quarter and shot under 30% for the game. Sandia made six field goals in the first quarter, but only five the rest of the game.
“I let them down,” Brown said. “I got my butt outcoached.”
Anthony Gonzales of Volcano Vista gave his team its first lead of the night, dropping in a 3-pointer from the top of the key with 4:35 remaining for a 28-25 lead.
“Just gave us a little momentum (and) and from then we just wanted to hold (the lead),” said Gonzales, who scored six points.
The Hawks’ gifted 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, Kenyon Aguino, added a short jummper moments later, then Aguino added two free throws for a 32-25 edge with 3:10 to go.
And in a game which was a slog like this one, a seven-point lead felt more like 20.
“We weren’t frustrated,” said Aguino, who led Volcano Vista (29-1) with 17 points and 11 rebounds. “We knew what we could do, and we weren’t doing it.”
Volcano Vista outscored Sandia 21-6 in the decisive fourth quarter as the Hawks beat the Matadors for the fourth time this season. This was the largest margin of victory of the four.
Historically, no two teams had combined for fewer points (74) in the big-school boys final, not since the state went to three classes in 1969, The 1991 final between Alamogordo and Sandia had 75 points.
You had to go back to 1952, when there weren’t even classifications yet, to find a lower-scoring boys final than this one. That was Roswell 36, Alamogordo 33.
Danny Brown was of mixed emotions afterward.
“It was an awesome day, I ain’t gonna lie,” he said. “I’m happy for my brother, and I’m happy we got to play them. … I got to spend the whole day with my guys, that was what was important. I hurt for them.”
Sandia raced out — if that phrase is even applicable after a game like this one — to a 13-6 lead in the first quarter. Gerald Lujan came off the bench with a 3, and the Matadors forced seven Volcano Vista turnovers in the opening eight minutes.
Volcano Vista closed the gap somewhat before halftime, but Andrew Hill’s late three-point play for Sandia made it 21-15 at the half. There was practically nothing going on in the third quarter, which ended with Sandia ahead 25-22.
Gonzales, Aguino and 6-9 senior Sean Alter carried the scoring load in the fourth quarter as the Hawks went ahead and then preserved the lead. — James Yodice
Sandia Vv 5 a Boys Final by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd
CLASS 5A GIRLS
No. 1 HOBBS 52, No. 3 VOLCANO VISTA 45: It was a championship for all Hobbs Eagles, those present and those absent.
Class 5A’s top-seeded girls basketball team closed the season in grand style, leading the entire way as Hobbs beat No. 3 Volcano Vista 52-45 in the state final at the Pit on Saturday afternoon.
The Eagles (28-3) prevented Volcano Vista (27-4) from three-peating.
“There’s a revenge factor, but more than anything,” Hobbs coach Joe Carpenter said, “these girls wanted to win their first.”
Saturday marked the fourth consecutive season that these two schools met in the final game. The Eagles won it all in 2020, the Hawks in 2021 and 2022.
This was a sometimes difficult and trying road for the Eagles. One of their top players, guard Wisdom Anthony, injured her knee early in the season and never returned. Another top player moved to Texas.
More recently, another starter, 5-foot-11 sophomore forward Kyndle Cunningham, was not in the lineup Saturday. She was ineligible to play after having been ejected in Thursday’s semifinal victory against La Cueva.
“Kyndle was still there on the (bench),” Carpenter said. “It’s been a tough week.”
He voice was trembling as he also said, “This one was for you, Wis, too.”
Hobbs, appearing the state final for the sixth straight season, scored 12 of the game’s first 15 points, capped by Brynn Hargrove’s 3-pointer five minutes into the game.
Volcano Vista slowly worked its way back into the game. Lilliana Duncan’s layup cut a previous 9-point deficit to 15-14.
But, in a pattern that would repeat itself several times, shooting guard Nakia Mojica knocked down a pair of 3s in response to a Volcano Vista push. Hobbs led 21-19 at halftime.
The Hobbs lead was just seven when Mojica struck again near the end of the third quarter, and Hobbs had its first double-digit lead at 33-23.
Volcano Vista junior forward Taejhuan Hill went to work early in the fourth quarter. She had a couple of short jumpers, and Duncan added a 3 in a quick 7-0 burst that left Hobbs nursing a 33-30 lead with 6½ minutes left.
But then Mojica stepped up again, raining in another 3. Jayla David added a layup 40 seconds later, the lead was eight, and the Hawks were out of steam.
“This was a gritty group of girls today,” Carpenter said.
Hill had 19 points, 10 rebounds and five assists — all team highs — for Volcano Vista,
“She’s a good player,” said David, who represented the only real size on the floor for Hobbs, at 5-10. “I knew I had to pick it up a lot, especially with Kyndle gone.”
The Hawks shot just 32.6% (15 of 46) from the field.
“I thought we had some good looks; it just didn’t go our way tonight,” said Volcano Vista coach Lisa Villareal.
Hobbs had four starters in double figures. Mojica and David each had 12 points, Bhret Clay added 11 and Hargrove 10 (plus four assists). The Eagles started four sophomores plus freshman Aliana Armitage, who replaced Cunningham.– James Yodice
Hobbs Volcano Vista Girls 5 a Final by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd
CLASS 4A BOYS
No. 1 ALBUQUERQUE ACADEMY 70, No. 6 HOPE CHRISTIAN 39: Before Saturday’s much-anticipated Class 4A matchup between two of the state’s blueblood boys programs, Albuquerque Academy coach Marcos CdeBaca took his team into the school gym and them look at the banners on the wall.
There certainly are plenty of them to see. The only thing is, there is quite gap since the last one.
“I stared at that wall (Friday) night; ’94 is the last time we put something up,” C’deBaca said. “We had a little pre-game before we came to the Pit and I had them stare at the wall. I told them we want a 2023 up there and we got it.”
The top-seeded Chargers just threw too many weapons onto the Pit floor, overwhelming No. 6 Hope Christian 70-39.
The Chargers (27-3) claimed their ninth state championship and first since the last of its six straight titles in 1994. The Huskies (21-11) share the consecutive championship streak, getting six straight from 2013-2018. And they were trying for their 17th ring, which would have put Hope even with Hobbs atop the state charts.
“It was an honor coaching against a legend like (Hope coach Jim) Murphy and I know everybody wanted him to win,” CdeBaca said. “Sorry but we wanted to win, too.”
The District 6A rivals met three times previously, with the regular season games close, but the district championship also was a runaway Chargers win.
“The first two times we played, we lost by three and we lost by five and they were good games,” Murphy said. “But the district championship was a similar story. They came out hitting shots and we just kind of never recovered from that.”
Academy also got a boost when injured star Kellan Gehre battled through a gruesome-looking ankle injury to score 15 points and grab seven rebounds after missing most of the semifinal gagainst Valley. He hit consecutive 3-pointers midway through the first quarter to signal to both the Huskies and teammates that he would be a factor.
He had “48 hours of non-stop treatment,” CdeBaca said. “If you would have seen that ankle, you would have said that kid is not playing in the state championship. Tough as nails right there. Tough as nails.”
His presence was important, said Chargers forward Joe Jack, who had 27 points and eight rebounds.
“It means everything,” Jack said. “He’s our brother. We need him. I knew he was always going to be playing. I never had a doubt that he wasn’t going to be on the sideline of the state championship game. You just had to believe that he was going to be out there the whole time.”
It took a concerted effort from the Academy training staff to get Gehre ready.
“I woke up Thursday morning and I couldn’t walk,” he said. “I went to go get treatment. I tried to play in the Valley game. I was getting (electronic stimulation) hot pack, icepack. I was doing shockwave therapy with my mom; she’s a doctor. In the Valley game, I couldn’t really run. (Friday), it was all the same thing. I was in the training room pretty much the entire day, even during practice. And I was in the training room (Saturday) morning too. I had a lot of people help me out, which is really nice.”
The Chargers also got a strong performance from post Andres Rivera, who finished with 17 points, many coming off feeds from Dillon McCleskey and Justin Mask, who each had six assists.
“We’ve got so many guys over here who can play basketball at a really high level, it kind of makes my job easy, to be honest,” Rivera said. “I go to the rack and these guys draw two and then it’s an easy dump. Credit to these guys as much as it to me. I wouldn’t be here without them.”
That unselfish play was a key factor for Academy, Murphy said.
“I think they’re very unselfish. They pass the ball well,” he said. “We were a little slow on our rotations and they moved the ball around and hit the open man and knocked them down.” — Glen Rosales
HopeAAClass4ABoysFinal by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd
CLASS 3A BOYS
NO. 1 ST. MICHAEL’ S 66, NO. 3 ROBERTSON 49: Payback for the St. Michael’s Horsemen wasn’t necessarily pretty, but it sure felt good.
Adam Montoya scored 15 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter and St. Mike’s pulled away to beat rival Robertson 66-49 in Saturday’s Class 3A boys state championship in the Pit.
Montoya and teammate Sabiani Rios exemplified the tone of the game, which was tied at 35 after three quarters. Rios scored 10 of his 15 points in the final eight minutes, when the Horsemen (27-4) forced 10 turnovers and outscored the Cardinals 31-14.
“The fourth quarter was crucial and it came off our defense,” St. Mike’s coach Gerard Garcia said. “We wore them down. You could see it in their eyes; they got tired.”
Defense certainly won the day for St. Mike’s, which forced 21 turnovers overall and avenged a loss to Robertson in last season’s Class 3A final. The Horsemen snapped a string of three runner-up finishes since their last crown in 2012.
After the game, Montoya rested his head on an interview table next to the blue winner’s trophy before raising it with a tired smile.
“We had to work hard to get here,” he said, “but it feels great to have this trophy.”
It felt a bit like redemption to Garcia, who took over as interim coach at St. Michael’s midway through the 2021-22 season and lost three of four games to Robertson, includng the state final. St. Mike’s finished 4-0 versus the Cardinals (26-6) this season.
“I told my staff, ‘If I don’t win a state championship within three years, I’ll quit,'” he said. “I guess now I can stick around a while.”
St. Mike’s had to do it the hard way Saturday after falling into an 18-9 hole. Robertson’s Kenneth Montoya banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Robertson its largest lead.
But the Cardinals scored just one point in the second quarter. The Horsemen led 21-20 at halftime and eventually took over in the fourth quarter.
“They just took the momentum with their ball pressure and steals,” said Jesse James Gonzales, who led Robertson with 17 points. “The momentum changed and we couldn’t get it back.”
— Ken Sickenger
St Mikes Robertson 3 a Boys Final by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd
CLASS 2A BOYS
NO. 1 PECOS 52, NO. 2 ACADEMY FOR TECHNOLOGY AND THE CLASSICS 49: With the Pecos down 11 at halftime to Academy for Technology and the Classics, Panthers coach Arthur Gonzales opted for a simple message over a fiery locker-room speech.
“Bottom line is everyone had an assignment,” Gonzales said. “Basically, it’s do our job. Let’s get aggressive. That’s pretty simple. That’s what it was: Do your job.”
That message apparently made an impact, as No. 1 Pecos (28-3) scored the first 11 points of the third quarter en route to a 52-49 win over the second-seeded Phoenix (26-7) in the boys Class 2A championship game on Saturday morning at the Pit. It’s the fifth blue trophy in the last seven years for the Panthers and the first under Gonzales.
Senior guard Jodaiah Padilla led the way for Pecos with team highs in points (14), rebounds (eight) and assists (six). His driving layup for his team’s first points of the third quarter also served as the catalyst for his team’s second-half run.”We just knew what we had to do coming out of the half,” Padilla said. “I saw gaps in their zone. You’re supposed to attack those gaps, find open teammates. I think it got us rolling right away.”
ATC, which was making its first ever championship game appearance, offered far more resistance than it did in a 31-point loss to Pecos in January. Led by Rocky Miller and Julian Bernardino, the Phoenix outscored the Panthers 17-6 in the second quarter. Miller finished with a game high 19 points, while Bernardino added 12 for ATC. Pecos, meanwhile, endured a miserable first half where it shot 25 percent from the field — a figure that was aided by going just 2 of 16 from beyond the arc. An emphasis on higher percentage shots helped turn things around. “We adjusted in the third quarter. We went inside and got some good looks and finally hit some shots,” Gonzales said. “That was the turn of the game.”
The Phoenix had two chances to tie it in the waning moments. Jordan Apodaca missed a 3 with less than 15 seconds to play, and on ATC’s ensuing possession, Bernardino’s desperation heave from inside half court at the buzzer was well off the mark. — Tristen Critchfield
PecosATC by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd
CLASS 1A GIRLS
No. 2 Roy/MOSQUERO 62, No. 4 To’hajiilee 61: In a traditional offensive set, Roy-Mosquero didn’t always shine. But amidst the chaos, it flourished.
RoyMosqueroTo’hajiilee by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd
CLASS 1A BOYS
No. 2 FORT SUMNER/HOUSE 45, No. 1 MAGDALENA 43: Previously unbeaten and almost untested Magdalena found that out the hard way in a stunning 45-43 loss to No. 2 seed Fort Sumner/House in the Class 1A boys state championship game Saturday night.
The Steers, two-time defending champions who entered the game 31-0, trailed for most of the game but got even on Krae Stephens’ 3-pointer that made it 43-43 with 10 seconds left.
Then the unthinkable. Unaware that his team had pulled even, sophomore Joseph Zamora grabbed Foxes guard Chance Thomson in the backcourt with 6.3 seconds left. Thomson calmly hit both free throws for what would be the winning margin.
“I was surprised he fouled me,” Thomson said, “but I just walked into a hole and treated them like any other free throws.”
The Foxes (29-2) avenged one of their two defeats, a four-point home loss to Magdalena earlier in the season. Saturday’s rematch with the state’s other dominant 1A team was precisely what they wanted, guard Chance Thomson said.
“It’s the best feeling,” he said. “We wanted to meet them again ever since that last one. I’m so happy we did and were able to win.”
It was a difficult and rare loss for the Steers, who came in as the state’s only undefeated team in any classification. Coach Jory Mirabal was quick to keep the ending in perspective.
“That’s on me,” he said of the late foul. “We were in scramble mode for 16 minutes and just kept scrambling. We take pride in knowing the time and situation and we didn’t. That’s on me.”
Magdalena came into Saturday’s game riding an almost unbelievable run of success. Starting with the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season, the Steers had gone 76-1 with their lone loss coming at Tularosa last season.
It didn’t stop there. Dating back to 2019-20, Magdalena compiled a ridiculous 107-2 mark with the remaining loss to Pecos in the 2020 Class 2A final.
But Saturday belonged to Fort Sumner/House, which hit 6-of-10 from 3-point range in the first half to grab a 32-21 lead. The Steers trimmed it to 36-32 after three quarters and grabbed a brief 38-36 lead in the fourth, but the Foxes had just enough answers.
Cash Burney scored 12 points to lead Fort Sumner/House. D’Shaun Vinyard paced Magdalena with 16 points and nine rebounds.
Magdalena Fort Sumner House by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Boys Basketball State Championships Class 5A
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Boys Basketball State Championships Class 4A
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Boys Basketball State Championships Class 3A
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Boys Basketball State Championships Class 2A
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Boys Basketball State Championships Class A
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Girls Basketball State Championships Class 5A
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Girls Basketball State Championships Class 4A
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Girls Basketball State Championships Class 3A
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Girls Basketball State Championships Class 2A
2023 Nusenda Credit Union Girls Basketball State Championships Class A