Emotional extremes await 4A, 5A high school boys basketball finalists

FEATURE PHOTO: Los Lunas’ Zanen Zeller (22) fueled the Tigers’ 77-60 victory over Del Norte in the 4A semifinal game. He’ll try to lead Los Lunas to its first basketball title today when it takes on Hope-killer Valley High School.

By Russell Gurule
For Enchantment Sports

There are two possible outcomes that await the participants of Saturday’s Boys State High School Basketball championship games. One outcome is joy and elation at the chance to be called “state champions.”

The other is summed up best by my father: “It’s all over but the crying.”

But crying can be good for the soul as several teams will begin preparing for next season. Thursday’s on-court action in Classes 4A and 5A was about four teams playing for Saturday. Let’s begin.

CLASS 4A

Silver vs. Valley: After we all came down from Valley’s big upset of Hope, it was time to find out if the Vikings were for real. That question was answered as Valley jump out to an early lead and held off a late-charging run by the Colts of Silver for an impressive 53-50 victory.  The Vikings advance to the big game on Saturday. Valley’s Derick Chavez led the way with 19 points.

Los Lunas vs. Del Norte: The upstart Del Norte Knights came down to earth as they experienced the Los Lunas express. Del Norte came out giving Knights fans some hope, but then it was Los Lunas’ turn to bring on a run that would lock up the lead the rest of the way. Zanen Zeller’s 24 points led the Tigers to a 77-60 victory. Los Lunas will now face Valley in the 4A title game on Saturday. Del Norte’s David Flores had 16 points.

CLASS 5A

Volcano Vista vs Santa Fe: It was a chance for an Unser Road school to dominate the big game on Saturday. Santa Fe had different plans. Volcano Vista held the lead many times but just couldn’t cast out the Demons of Santa Fe. With clutch free throws and 3-pointers, Santa Fe knocked off Volcano Vista in a 55-52 nail-biter. Cruz Martinez was Santa Fe’s high scorer with 10 points. Volcano Vista’s Cesar Madrid had a fantastic game, finishing with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

PHOTO COURTESY RUSSELL GURULE: Atrisco Heritage’s Joziah Ramos, left, guards Del Norte’s Aamer Muhammad in a clash of titans during the Boys 4A tournament semifinals.

Atrisco Heritage vs. Cleveland: This one was the other half of Unser Road. It had all the feeling of a championship game. Each possession was a treasured commodity. Plenty of exciting plays were to be had as Cleveland’s Aamer Mohammad and Atrisco’s Joziah Ramos went head to head. Both squads exchanged leads from buzzer to buzzer as Ramos hit a floater to send the game into overtime — but not without Mohammad almost winning the game with a straight-on 3-point attempt that just missed. In overtime, the Jaguars of Atrisco grabbed the bull by the horns, holding on with two late free throws by Ramos to take a 62-59 victory. Ramos finished with 28 points. Mohammed had 21 points for the Storm.

ANALYSIS

The big games are finally here! In 5A, it will be a surprise matchup of Atrisco vs. Santa Fe. Atrisco will be looking to repeat as state champions. Santa Fe will be looking for the upset to end a magical run through the tournament without its best player, J.B. White.

4A will offer a somewhat similar scenario with Los Lunas vs. Valley. Los Lunas, which advanced to the title game in 2014, will look for its first-ever state title. Valley seeks for a happy ending to a surprise run that has all of us talking.

Who will cut down the nets? Find out Saturday; be there early. The Pit will be alive with its magic. This will be the final fork in the road.

The Madness ends here.

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