Cinderella Men! Del Norte and Valley shock Class 4A with ousters of Gallup and Hope Christian

Photo: The fourth-seeded Gallup Bengals were in the post-game media room on Wednesday, fielding similar questions as Espanola Valley did on Saturday after losing a stunner to Del Norte. (Photo/Russell Gurule)

By Sebastian Noel
For Enchantment Sports

Meet Cinderella.  And her twin sister.

The Valley Vikings and Del Norte Knights provided some shocking results Wednesday in the Class 4A Boys State High School Basketball Championships.

Seventh-seeded Valley (15-13) ended second-seeded Hope Christian’s championship dominance with a 61-57 win while 12th-seeded Del Norte (16-13) made it back-to-back stunners against two of the biggest fan-base schools in the state, with a 55-49 upset of No. 4 Gallup. The Knights won at Española Valley 81-74 in Saturday’s opening round.

Today (March 14), Valley takes on fourth-seeded Silver (24-4) at 3 p.m. today while Del Norte faces top-seeded Los Lunas (26-3) at 6:30 p.m., in the semifinals. Both games are at in the Pit.

Joe Coleman’s Valley Vikings were not intimidated by Jim Murphy’s Hope Huskies (20-9).

As Hope continued to fire up bad shots, Valley’s confidence continued to grow.

Hope’s starting backcourt was 7-of-28 with many of those leading to confidence-boosting buckets on the other end.

How many bad shots did the Huskies take? Well, they took 16 more shots in the game than Valley.

While Hope kept firing, Valley kept executing, at a 58-percent clip from the field, to be exact.

The Huskies best option, Colin Evans, just didn’t touch the ball enough.  He finished with a quiet double-double — 16 points and 11 rebounds on 6-of-8 shooting.

Four Vikings were in double figures, including guard Seyi Oyeku. He picked up his fourth fouls early in the fourth quarter, and Hope started to pressure full court.

Coleman showed the same confidence in Seyi as he did for his older brother, Segun, who also played for Coleman. He inserted him back into the game and it worked.

Valley broke the press. Valley broke the streak. The Huskies’ hopes for seven championships in a row? Gone.

Then there’s Del Norte’s coach Jeron McIntosh. He and the Knights may have sent in excess of 15,000 fans home early this week.

His first-round defeat of No. 5 Española Valley was followed by a start-to-finish lead for a win over the No. 4 seed Gallup.

At the end of my broadcast, I — a proud Del Norte alum — declared “another McIntosh Miracle in March.”

All nine Knights that played scored.  But the big baskets came from Jordan Neilsen.

He had a game-high 16, but most of them came in crucial times.

The last of his four 3-pointers came late, after Gallup cut it to two possessions, and the Bengal faithful roared throughout Dreamstyle Arena.

With famous Knights alum Scott Bamforth in attendance, Del Norte advanced to its second final four in McIntosh’s three years.

I love March.

 


Sebastian Noel does play-by-play for ProView Networks and is one of the state’s premier prep basketball experts. If you have information for Sebastian about high school sports, email him at EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com.

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