BERNALILLO — Technically, it’s not over yet.
But it certainly feels over.
With Tyrese Coriz burying a tie-breaking free throw with 6.4 seconds left Tuesday night, the Bernalillo High School boys basketball team not only beat Sandia Prep 61-60 but essentially clinched the District 5-4A championship.
“One more,” Spartans coach Terry Darnell said. His team takes the regular season with a win in either of its final two games, starting Friday with East Mountain. And Bernalillo won easily in the first meeting.
Bernalillo (12-12, 6-0 in 5-4A), which leads second-place Sandia Prep (10-13, 4-2) by two games with two games remaining, was fortunate to escape Tuesday night.
Bernalillo nearly blew a pair of double-digit leads in this game, but Coriz — following a Sandia Prep turnover at midcourt as the Sundevils were hoping to set up for a last-second shot to steal a road win — hit that free throw to break a 60-60 tie.
“As I was standing there, I was thinking, ‘I can’t let my team down,’ ” said Coriz, who finished with 12 points. “We’ve worked so hard for this, I had to knock it down.”
This was never easy for the Spartans, who led by 10 in the first half only to see the Sundevils cut the deficit to 42-40 near the end of the third quarter.
Then Bernalillo got five points inside from post Solomon Fragua and another run — capped by a 3-pointer by Reyes Herrera — pushed the Spartans in front by 54-42 with 6:44 left in the game.
But Sandia Prep rallied again, and this time the Sundevils went in front. After two free throws by Jack Henderson, who led his team with 27 points, Sandia Prep was up 60-58 with 1:13 to go.
“We just lost focus defensively,” Darnell said. “I always talk about having to keep pace with the other team. If they score, we have to score.”
Fragua calmly swished two free throws with 26 seconds remaining to tie the game.
After Coriz gave Bernalillo the lead, Sandia Prep set up for a final shot, which was wide from halfcourt at the buzzer.
Herrera led Bernalillo with 15 points.
— James Yodice
LOS LUNAS 47, BELEN 40: At Los Lunas, the Tigers used a determined effort on the offensive boards and produced a near shutout on the defensive end over the final 3 minutes to give the Eagles their first District 5-5A loss of the season.
Belen trailed 11-9 after the first quarter but led 21-20 at halftime. Los Lunas rallied in the third quarter and tied the game at 32 going into the fourth quarter. The Eagles hit a 3-pointer one minute into the fourth quarter to grab a 35-32 lead, but it would be Belen’s last lead.
The aggressive Tigers drove the ball into the paint at will, producing a 12-2 run over four minutes to take a 42-37 lead, a lead they never relinquished.
The Eagles’ Nick Trujillo led all scorers with 22 points. Los Lunas was paced by Martin Trujillo’s 14 points.
Belen (18-6, 5-1 in 5-5A) still leads the league, with Los Lunas (17-5, 3-2) and St. Pius (12-8, 3-2) one game behind, and Grants (15-8, 2-3) two games back.
— Kenn Rodriguez
LA CUEVA 62, SANTA FE 58: At La Cueva, Lawrence Calais scored a team-best 20 points as the Bears (9-12, 5-2) pulled into a second-place tie in District 2-6A with the Demons.
ELDORADO 39, SANDIA 37: At Sandia, Michael Mounho hit a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left as the Eagles (16-5, 7-0 in 2-6A) handed the Matadors (9-12, 1-6) a crushing setback in their hopes to make the state tournament field.
SANDIA 53, ELDORADO 42: At Eldorado, Sapirah Broussard scored a game-best 24 points as the Matadors (17-4, 5-2 in 2-6A) pulled into a second-place tie in district with the Eagles (16-5, 5-2).
LA CUEVA 57, SANTA FE 40: In Santa Fe, Delaney Markham had 14 points as the Bears (15-6, 7-0), with some help from Sandia, padded their lead in District 2-6A to two games over the Matadors and Eldorado with three games remaining.
HIGHLAND 73, RIO GRANDE 32: Brooklyn Crawford had a team-high 21 points for the Hornets (12-9, 5-2 in 4-6A).
VALLEY 47, ALBUQUERQUE HIGH 38: At Valley, Jodeci Toomalatai led the Vikings (6-15, 1-5 in 4-6A) with 11 points.
RIO RANCHO 54, ESPAÑOLA VALLEY 44: In Española, Camryn Hawkins led the Rams (14-9) with 16 points in the nondistrict victory.
DEL NORTE 51, CAPITAL 31: At Del Norte, Malakah Martinez, Victoria Casaus, Breana Desoto and Amanda Burks combined for 43 points for the Knights (13-9, 4-2 in 2-5A).
ST. PIUS 55, VALENCIA 39: At St. Pius, Maya Trujillo had four 3s and 24 points to lead the Sartans (16-6, 5-1 in 5-5A).