Subjective as always, today I present the Journal’s All-Metro boys and girls basketball teams.
Exclusivity remains one of our key elements. There are only 20 total players – 10 boys, 10 girls – who are being recognized on the first team. (The names of the second-team choices are on this page in the margins.)
BOYS: Six of my top 10, and four of my five first-team choices, were District 1-6A athletes, led by Volcano Vista forward David Cormier. Here was a 6-foot-3 kid who often played like he was 6-8. He averaged 17 points and eight rebounds in helping the Hawks to the state championship eight days ago.
Three rivals from 1-6A join Cormier on the first team, starting with Rio Rancho senior shooting guard Juan Hurt (20.5 points, 4.2 assists per game).
Hurt’s game, from my chair, matured considerably from a year ago, and he was as versatile as any guard in New Mexico, what with his ability to drive and finish combined with his shooting prowess. A pleasure to watch.
Plus, how many basketball players in this country – NBA, college, high school – shot free throws at a better clip than Hurt the last few months? He was a ridiculous 190 out of 210 (90.5 percent). And his shots almost never touched the rim.
Cleveland senior point guard Marcus Hill (13.4 ppg, 5.0 apg, 2.8 steals a game) was a rock for the Storm, handling the ball, dictating pace, facilitating, creating. He is player perhaps not as flashy as Hurt, but no less effective or important to his team’s success.
Cibola senior Desmond Carpenter (15.5 ppg, 4.5 apg, 5 rpg) was arguably the city’s most athletic combo guard. His length and speed made him difficult to defend from anywhere on the floor.
The last of the starting five is Valley junior guard Anthony Chavez (21.7 ppg, 5.5 apg). Chavez, more than at any stage of his fine career, was forced to carry much of the offensive load for the Vikings, and it speaks volumes of his ability that he was able to generate such fine numbers with so little help around him.
GIRLS: We start with two private-school standouts: Hope Christian’s Alivia Lewis (14 points, 10 rebounds, three blocks per game) and Albuquerque Academy’s Sophie Long (17.9 ppg, 7.5 rpg). Here were a pair of 6-footers who could play the forward or the post and be equally efficient. Lewis finished second in career points and rebounds at Hope, and first in blocked shots.
The 6-1 Long, perhaps, was the most under-appreciated talent in the metro area. On a 6A roster, she’d have received far more attention. Same goes for the 6-2 Lewis.
Two dynamic guards, Eldorado senior Sydney Candelaria and West Mesa sophomore Esperanza Varoz, also are on my first team.
I’m not sure there was a smoother player than the versatile, left-handed Candelaria (18.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg), and she usually demonstrated wonderful court savvy.
Varoz represented the best of a West Mesa team that was a 3 seed for state, even if she missed the last month with a knee injury.
There may not have been anyone more purely fun to watch than Varoz (14.7 ppg, 4.7 apg, 3.1 steals per game), on a team that was also the metro’s most entertaining bunch. She shot 46 percent from the arc, and she was nearly the equal of Rio Rancho’s Hurt from the stripe, making 89 percent (100 of 112).
Sandia forward Cara Liggins (16.5 ppg, 9.3 rpg) rounds out the first team. Liggins was a talent who did everything for the Matadors in their state championship season. She was an offensive force, and also a defensive stalwart in areas such as blocks and steals.