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Former Lobo Royce Olney returns to watch nephew’s team

RIO RANCHO — If Olney.

Who knows? Maybe he could have made the difference.

On Friday, Cibola beat host Rio Rancho 48-47 in a state tournament-atmosphere District 1-6A boys basketball game. Rams freshman Royce Olney didn’t play — but chances certainly are good that he will in the coming years.

“The kid can really shoot,” said his uncle, former Hot Springs and New Mexico Lobo star guard Royce Olney, who was in attendance on Friday with his mom and dad — Liz and Sam Olney — along with eighth-grade nephew Owen Olney and sister Sara Sue Olney. “He’s going to be a good one.”


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Both the Olney youngsters are Sara Sue’s kids. Sara Sue, the former Hot Springs and Weber State standout, was working the snack bar Friday.

“It’s really nice to be back, even if it’s just for the night,” said big Royce. “New Mexico is still home. Always will be.”

The elder Royce spends half the year as a hunting tour guide for Mountain State Guide Service in New Mexico. In the spring and summer, he works for North Park Anglers, based in Walden, Colo., as a fly-fishing guide.

On Friday, however, basketball was the only thing in his blood.

“It’s just a lot of fun to be around it,” he said of being in the gym. “I’ve worked with Owen and Royce since they were little bitty. They kind of grew up, like me, with a basketball in their hands. Now, they’re just starting to see some of the work pay off.

“I don’t get to spend as much time with them as I would like, but the time I get is awesome. They come from a family of coaches, so they get coaching all the way around.”

Liz won seven straight state volleyball titles as a coach with Hot Springs while Sam was a highly successful track and boys basketball coach at Hot Springs.

Sara Sue, who works with teens at various schools in Rio Rancho, also coached at Eagle Ridge Middle School, and now with a Rio Rancho eighth grade youth team.