Feature photo: Highland’s Josh Barraza (23) shoots during the Hornets’ double-overtime win against Santa Fe (Russell Gurule).
By Russell Gurule
For Enchantment Sports
Last week gave us plenty of tournament action as we begin the new year. Several tournaments stood out as some great match ups materialized. All across the state, several tournaments gave us an idea of who will be competing for the blue trophy come March.
In the Las Cruces Public Schools tournament, District 3-5A rivals Las Cruces High and Las Cruces Oñate met up in the championship final. Las Cruces (10-1) used a dominate third quarter for a 56-41 victory, giving the Bulldawgs back-to-back titles in the event.
The Bulldawgs are at Los Lunas on Thursday at 2 p.m., while Oñate (12-1) is at Roswell (10-3) on Thursday at 7 p.m. The Coyotes are on a six-game winning streak.
Other emerging challengers in Southern New Mexico are Alamogordo (9-3), which is on a four-game win streak, and Carlsbad (8-2).
In the Hobbs Holiday tournament, Cleveland came in undefeated and left the same way with a 74-65 victory over Hobbs in the title game. Cleveland (10-0) with a home game against Santa Fe on Thursday at 7 p.m. Cleveland then heads to Santa Fe to take on Capital (10-1) on Saturday at 4 p.m.
Possibly the tournament with the most excitement was the Rio Rancho Holiday Hoops Classic. The surprise of the tournament was how well Highland did against Santa Fe. Down by 16, the Hornets came back to win in double-overtime. Santa Fe’s Cruz Martinez finished with 31 points.
Tournament host Rio Rancho was able to bounce back from a tough early season schedule to win the event over Highland.
Clovis has been turning heads with a seven-game win streak. The Wildcats beat Albuquerque High 76-53 in the Clovis Griego and Sons tournament final.
Clovis now participates in the Gallup Invitational starting Thursday. Check school sites for opponents and game times.
One interesting match up this week is La Cueva at Atrisco Heritage on Friday at 7 p.m. Both teams are looking to gain momentum before the Metro Championships.
One game that should bring some excitement is Eldorado at Del Norte. The Eagles’ 6-6 senior Deraje Agbaosi will face off against Del Norte’s 6-7 senior Brian Kitenge. This should be a fun match up to watch along with the steady play of Del Norte star Malik Barton. The game is Friday at 7 p.m.
Eldorado then visits the state’s No.1 team in Volcano Vista at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. Volcano Vista also plays on Friday at Sandia at 7 p.m. If Volcano Vista and Eldorado each win on Friday, we will have a match up of two undefeated teams right before the Metro Championships. Make sure to keep an eye on this possibility.
This week is promising to have some really good games between the state’s top teams. From Las Cruces to Santa Fe, six teams in 5A have only one loss or are undefeated. This week we won’t see much change in that number. But we will get to see if Cleveland or Volcano Vista are true frontrunners for the blue trophy.
This week is just a teaser for what could be an epic Metro Championship tournament. So hoop fans, enjoy the beginning of 2020 as we head towards March.
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