RIO RANCHO – Yes, the Cleveland High School boys basketball team was a big winner Thursday night.
And so was a 7-year-old boy.
More on his emotional story in a minute.
As for the basketball, Cleveland’s 85-72 win over visiting Cibola enhanced the Storm’s position atop the District 1-6A standings. With Rio Rancho knocking off Volcano Vista on Thursday, the worst Cleveland (18-6, 5-1) can expect to get out of the regular season is a playoff game for 1-6A’s top seed.
“I’ll tell you,” Storm coach Sean Jimenez said. “I’ve been coaching 10 years at the high school level. I haven’t seen a team that has this many offensive weapons.”
Cleveland had four players in double figures, and seven players with at least eight points.
The Storm went on a 9-0 run to close the first half, claiming a 36-30 lead over the Cougars (16-6, 3-3) at halftime.
Cleveland steadily pulled away in the second half. A ferocious one-handed dunk by Tyrique Weaver upped the lead to 10. A 3-pointer from Nakqi Smith extended the lead to 12. And on it went, Cibola unable to match the Storm’s firepower.
Marquise Hill led the Storm with 16 points. Marcus Hill added 14. Aamer Muhammad scored 13 points, and all of Weaver’s 12 points came after halftime.
Desmond Carpenter of Cibola led all scorers with 22 points. Zach Baca added 18 – 17 coming in the second half.
Meanwhile, the teams combined for 17 3-pointers Thursday night.
Why is that significant?
Because the two teams – with a handful of local businesses volunteering to chip in $10 per made 3 – combined to raise $2,210 to help a 7-year-old boy named Keanon Brazile take a weeklong trip to Hawaii that would begin on his eighth birthday, which is March 17.
Thursday was a Make-A-Wish fundraising night, with other items being auctioned off to raise money in addition to those made 3-pointers.
Keanon has scleroderma, an autoimmune disease. It hardens the skin, and the body’s immune system attacks otherwise healthy organs. Keanon and his family attended Thursday’s game.
– James Yodice
RIO RANCHO 63, VOLCANO VISTA 54: At Volcano Vista, the Rams (16-8, 3-3 in 1-6A) won their third straight game and avenged a home loss to the Hawks last month.
Juan Hurt led Rio Rancho with 20 points. Jalontae Gray had 18 points to pace Volcano Vista (13-8, 3-2), which faces Cibola tonight. The loss dropped the Hawks 1½ games behind Cleveland.
VOLCANO VISTA 58, RIO RANCHO 56 (OT): At Rio Rancho, the Hawks (13-8, 3-2 in 1-6A) earned one of their best wins of the season, beating the league-leading Rams (14-10, 5-1) and narrowing the gap in that district.
Jaden Chischillie led Volcano Vista with 18 points. Kamirah Decker of Rio Rancho led all scorers with 24 points.
CIBOLA 55, CLEVELAND 32: At Cibola, Kavi Brown’s 14 points paced the Cougars (15-7, 4-2 in 1-6A) past the Storm (7-17, 1-5). Cibola plays Volcano Vista tonight and closes next week against Rio Rancho.
WEST MESA 55, ALBUQUERQUE HIGH 34: At Bulldog City, Emily Burk had a team-best 15 points for the Mustangs (21-1, 8-0 in 4-6A).
RIO GRANDE 46, VALLEY 43: At Valley, Sabrina Giron had 18 points as the Ravens (5-16, 2-5 in 4-6A) picked up a road victory.