Featured photo: Kaden Valdez and Volcano Vista beat Eldorado 67-60 in a game that matched undefeated teams (Russell Gurule).
By Russell Gurule
For Enchantment Sports
Four teams continue to stand out from the rest in Class 5A, which became even more apparent last week.
Cleveland (12-0) and Volcano Vista (10-0), out of district 1-5A, have met every big challenge while Las Cruces High (13-1) and Las Cruces Oñate (13-1), both out of district 3-5A, continue to roll.
Cleveland made a strong case for being the No. 1 team in the state with solid victories against Santa Fe (11-3) and Capital (10-2) over the weekend. The game against Capital was memorable, with Cleveland’s 33-point performance in the fourth quarter. The Storm’s Tre Watson had 33 points while Capital’s T.J. Sanchez scored 32.
Volcano Vista also picked up two victories last week, beating Sandia (1-7) and previously undefeated Eldorado (8-1). The Hawks continue to impress as they look to hold unto their No.1 ranking in this week’s Metro Championships.
Las Cruces High looks to build on its eight-game winning streak when it plays host to district rival Gadsden on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Oñate begins the week with a district game at Centennial on Tuesday at 7 p.m., then plays host to Mayfield on Friday at 7 p.m.
Santa Fe (11-3) has a home game on Saturday against Clovis (10-4) at 7 p.m. This
will be a good test for both teams.
Capital (10-2) looks to bounce back from the loss to Cleveland when it plays host to Los Alamos (1-10) on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
Alamogordo (11-3) and Carlsbad (10-3) continue to knock on the door with six- and three- game win streaks.
In 4A, Lovington (7-2) and Gallup (9-3) have steadily built nice resumes for March. Both continue to be under the radar. We’ll know more by district play.
Highland (6-2) and Valley (6-3) are holding steady and will play tough 5A competition in this week’s Metro. The rest of 4A is displaying a large amount of parity as
many schools are struggling to stay above .500.
The Metro is the state’s largest regular-season tournament.
“Metro Madness,” as I like to call it, has a 16-team field playing at several different APS schools. The tournament begins Tuesday with the championship game scheduled for 4 p.m., on Saturday at Albuquerque High.
Each team will play four games. There a no games on Thursday.
The host sites are Volcano Vista, La Cueva, and Cibola along with Valley for the first games. Atrisco Heritage and Sandia host the consolation side of the bracket while Albuquerque High is host for the final four.Cleveland, Volcano Vista and Eldorado are the favorites. Both Cleveland and Volcano Vista could potentially meet in a title game showdown featuring two undefeated teams.
Eldorado could play spoiler, as it is in the same bracket with Cleveland.
There are, however, several other teams who could win it all. Highland (6-2) with its starting five could make a solid case for being a favorite and Rio Rancho is on a five-game win streak. Both play each other in the first round. It’s a rematch of the Rio Rancho Holiday classic final, won by the Hornets.
Valley (6-3) is another team that could go all the way, but first has to get past Albuquerque High, which is a true rivalry game.
Atrisco Heritage (7-2) is on a three-game winning streak with a lot to prove considering the high expectations to start the season.
La Cueva (4-4), with the duo of Derek Aeilts and Tristan Moore, could get on track this week with a full and healthy team.
Hope Christian (3-5) has struggled in the early season, but with N.M. Sports Hall of Fame coach Jim Murphy, anything can happen in a tournament setting.
This week promises to have many exciting moments and possibly a few surprises. Hoop fans, sharpen your pencils and print out your brackets.
Russell Gurule was born and raised in Albuquerque. 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