Feature photo: Valley’s Derick Chavez (2) and Seyi Oyeku (24) play at Sandia on Tuesday in one of this week’s big prep hoop games (Russell Gurule).
By Russell Gurule
For Enchantment Sports
Last week showed what an exciting year this season could be.
There were several surprises and a few front runners are beginning to emerge.
The month of December is that time of year when tournaments are in abundance. This week every hoop fan will have several choices.
But first let’s recap last week. Two undefeated teams began to emerge from the pack. The Las Cruces High Bulldawgs are 4-0 after wins against El Paso’s Franklin and Coronado, and Albuquerque’s Sandia and Manzano.
Not to be outdone, Las Cruces Oñate, led by senior Ricky Lujan, are 5-0 with an impressive victory over Hobbs at Ralph Tasker Arena.
Another impressive start is Volcano Vista’s three-game winning streak — all by double-digits — against La Cueva, Hope and Valley.
One surprise is defending 5A state champion Atrisco Heritage’s shaky start. The Jaguars are 2-1 with an upset loss to West Mesa, led by underrated star Eloy Medina.
The 5A runner-up Santa Fe Demons started the season with the Capital City tournament. With New Mexico Lobo commit JB White healthy, the Demons were able to reach the championship game where they faced City Different rival Capital. Santa Fe (3-0) escape with a 48-45 victory in OT.
Several teams sit at 2-0 or have one loss on the books. We will know more this week with several tournaments taking place around the state.
This week we start off with a few regular season games.
On Tuesday, Los Lunas visits Del Norte on Tuesday at 7 p.m. This should be a good match-up as Los Lunas moves on from the post Zanen Zeller era. Del Norte is led by senior Malik Barton.
Manzano head up Juan Tabo to face the Eldorado Eagles and Deraje Agbaosi on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Also on Tuesday, Valley is at Sandia on 7 p.m. Valley looks to capitalize on the momentum from its win over Albuquerque High at Bulldog City.
Sean Johnson of Sandia looks to continue to impress as a sophomore. Derick Chavez of Valley, who scored 30 points against against the Bulldogs, look to keep his hot shooting going. This will be a good one to watch.
Another big one on Tuesday has Santa Fe at Rio Rancho at 7 p.m. It definitely is a must-see game with UNM commit JB White playing up to expectations.
Valley and Highland, two state title contenders in 4A have started the year off at 1-1. As the weeks go by we will know more about these two.
Tourney time in December is always a high school basketball tradition in New Mexico. Our first tournament is the annual Joe Armijo, hosted by Albuquerque Academy.
This tournament has several of the state’s top teams: host Academy, Atrisco Heritage, Centennial, Las Cruces, Volcano Vista, Clovis, Goddard and Hope Christian.
Several of the state’s best players will be on display. Atrisco’s Joziah Ramos and Volcano Vista’s Jakwon Hill are two notables.
Next is the Cleveland Invite at the Cleveland High in Rio Rancho. The host school is one of the favorites in a field that includes last year’s 4A runner-up Los Lunas as well as La Cueva and 3A member Menaul. The tournament is also Thursday-through-Saturday.
Belen High School will host the Hub City Tournament. The Eagles are joined by Las Cruces Mayfield, El Paso High, Moriarty, Manzano and Oñate. It is also Thursday-through-Saturday.
Grab your jacket and get comfortable, this week will be fun and exciting as all the teams should be over the early-season jitters and battle for tourney championships.
Russell Gurule was born and raised in Albuquerque and is a long-time resident. He graduated from Highland High and also attended Hope Christian. Russell is a long-time observer of New Mexico Lobo and high school athletics. Logistics is his day job. Basketball and politics are his passions. To contact Russell with comments of tips, please email EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com