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Cibola’s Brown learned game from her ex-Lobo father

As for the origin of Amaya Brown’s first name, she confesses – she has no idea. From the name of a character on a TV show, she believes.

Where Brown gets her game, well, that’s no mystery at all.

“I would say she has a whole lot of her dad, and a whole lot of Hobbs Eagle in her, too,” Cibola girls basketball coach Lori Mabrey said.

The Cougars’ freshman shooting guard, a mere nine games into her high school career, already has emerged as one of New Mexico’s spotlight talents.

She is the shooting guard on the top girls basketball team in the metro area: the 8-1 Cougars, who are the No. 1 seed for this week’s grueling four-games-in-five-days Albuquerque Metro Championships, which begin today at campus sites, and end Saturday at the Pit. The girls final is at 4 p.m., following the UNM women, who face Utah State at 2. The metro boys’ title game is set for 6 p.m.

The soft-spoken, 14-year-old Brown is Cibola’s leading scorer (15.2 ppg) and already has authored a game-winning shot, last week on the road at traditional power Mayfield.

“Not every kid wants that pressure,” Mabrey said. “She’s not afraid.”

Genetically, Brown’s talents were practically a foregone conclusion.

She is the daughter of former Albuquerque High and University of New Mexico point guard Greg Brown. Her mother, Catina, played for Hobbs High.

Greg said Amaya already has Division I programs at the family doorstep – schools from power conferences.

“She could probably verbally commit right now to some top-10 schools,” he said.

At 5-feet-9, Amaya is already two inches taller than her old man, and clearly possesses considerable game. Mabrey went so far as to compare Brown to one of Cibola’s all-time greats, current Texas Tech senior guard Amber Battle.

“She has some of Amber’s mannerisms: her smile and passion for the game. (But) nine games in, Amber was a better raw athlete,” Mabrey said, a nod to Battle’s track prowess as a sprinter. “But Amaya has one plus that Amber didn’t have, and that’s Amaya wants to score. My husband (Buster), jokingly says she looks like a Hobbs Eagle. She wants to score the basketball, and she likes to score constantly.”

Brown said her father has helped pass along some of that intrinsic ability to score, including getting to the basket and honing her perimeter game.

Greg Brown, the former girls head coach at Bosque School, has been predicting for years that his daughter would shine once she arrived at the prep level.

“I’m surprised that she’s done so good,” admitted Greg Brown, who has coached Amaya most of her life, “but I know she’s pretty good. I’ve seen her do some stuff in the summers against high levels of competition.”

Indeed, Amaya started some of the club season for the New Mexico/Texas Heat, a team that includes four in-state D-1 signees: Clovis’ Danni Williams, La Cueva’s Alexa Romano, St. Pius’ Natalie Zamora and Cibola’s Kristin Dearth.

But Amaya’s biggest influence was her father, who says it is Amaya’s defense that is her strongest trait and creates much of her offense.

“I work out with him all the time,” Amaya said. “He taught me how to drive, and how to shoot better.”

She’s had a basketball in her hands almost all her life, and she, like her dad, is a self-anointed gym rat, though Amaya said “I wasn’t that good, actually (at the start). I used to shoot granny style. Seriously.”

Cibola opens the gym for two hours every Sunday, Mabrey said, so Brown and others can fine-tune.

“I want to be in the gym, because I really want to go to college and play D-1 someday,” she said.

Interestingly, Brown chose not to follow in her father’s footsteps at AHS.

“I want Amaya to do her own thing, and to make her own name,” Greg Brown said.

Said Amaya: “I chose Cibola because I really like coach Mabrey, and I felt like it was better for me to come here. Coach Lori takes care of us, and she teaches us a lot of things.”

Greg Brown said her daughter is well equipped, even at her tender age, to deal with the sport’s emotional rigors. And Mabrey said Brown already is comfortable blending at the varsity level.

“I think our chemistry has been great,” said Dearth, a 6-foot-2 post who has signed with D-I Seattle University. “Here, you have to work for your playing time, and she’s worked for it. They (the older players) accepted her very quickly, and she deserves it.”