Feature photo: Highland’s Jose Murillo dunks against Santa Teresa (Russell Gurule).
By Russell Gurule
For Enchantment Sports
High School hoop fans, it is tourney time in the middle of December. Right before the Christmas break, we are all treated to a lot of great match-ups. Last week didn’t disappoint. We saw a lot of parity in 4-5A basketball.
Our recap of last week and this week’s preview begins with Los Lunas vs. Del Norte. The Tigers get the victory over Del Norte 66-55 with the help of Bryce Santana’s 25 points.
The Eldorado Eagles boosted their record to 6-0 with wins over Manzano, Palo Duro (TX), and Los Alamos. We will find out more about the Eagles when they face Valley (4-1) on Friday (Dec. 20) at 7 p.m. at Eldorado. This one should be a really interesting match-up as both schools have solid winning records.
Santa Fe High passed a solid test with a 74-70 win against Rio Rancho. Next up was the Al Armendariz Tournament hosted by Capital High School of Santa Fe.
Santa Fe survived a tough 2A challenger in Pecos. which propelled it to the championship game against Capital. This was the second meeting between these two in a championship final.
Santa Fe overcame Capital in OT the first time. But this time the Jaguars and head coach Ben Gomez came away with a 53-50 victory, handing Santa Fe its first loss of the season.
Santa Fe looks to get back to its winning ways when it plays host to Los Lunas on Tuesday. It should be a good one. Los Lunas coach Travis Julian always has his team prepared.
Highland beat two teams from down south last week; Santa Teresa and Gadsden. The Hornets were led by the strong play of Erasmo Carreon. Gadsden’s Diego Hernandez had a solid game of 32 points against the Hornets.
Highland plays at Rio Rancho at 7 p.m. on Friday. Rio Rancho has had a difficult early season schedule which could pay dividends down the road. This will be a great game to watch on a Friday evening.
Cleveland (5-0) marched through its Cleveland Invite over a shorthanded La Cueva team to come away as tournament champions. This week, Cleveland makes the trip down south to play Centennial in Las Cruces at 7 p.m. on Friday and Mayfield at home at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Interesting scheduling to say the least.
Las Cruces Oñate continues to impress with an 8-0 record. The Knights breezed through the Belen Hub City Tournament with star player Ricky Lujan grabbing tournament MVP. Oñate will play Silver in Silver City on Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Knights then return to Las Cruces to take on Carlsbad on Saturday at 2:30 pm. We will see if the Knights remain undefeated.
Carlsbad (6-0) came into the Duke City and left with two victories over West Mesa and Cibola. But the Cavemen get a big test at Las Cruces High at 7 p.m. on Friday, then play at Oñate on Saturday.
The one tournament that everybody kept an eye on this past weekend was the Joe Armijo at Albuquerque Academy. Some possible future state tournament match-ups came to fruition.
Two undefeated teams met for a showdown. Las Cruces High vs. Volcano Vista became a classic. Both teams traded punches throughout the game until the Hawks of Volcano Vista were able to gather some breathing room. Led by Dion Battle’s 22 points, Volcano Vista was able to hold on for a 56-49 victory, thereby handing Las Cruces its first loss of the season.
Atrisco Heritage was able to fight through the tournament bracket to play in the championship game against Volcano Vista. Volcano Vista was on all cylinders for this game as it walked away with a 77-43 victory over the defending state champions. Volcano Vista’s Battle finished with 24 points. Atrisco’s Joziah Ramos finished with 25 points.
With a 6-0 record and an impressive resume, Volcano Vista should be considered the No. 1 team in the state. This week it has two home games; Friday at 7 p.m. against West Mesa and Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against Manzano.
Atrisco Heritage will try to regain some momentum with a home game Saturday at 2:30 p.m. against Albuquerque High. This should be a fun game to watch as Albuquerque High’s Jude Tapia goes head-to-head against Atrisco’s Joziah Ramos.
Gallup, under the direction of head coach Joshua Dunlap, has been under the radar. With a 5-1 record, the Bengals will face a true test this week with three road games; Piedra Vista on Tuesday at 7 p.m., Los Lunas on Thursday at 7 p.m., then on Friday at Bernalillo at 7 p.m. We will know more about Gallup after this week. Keep an eye on the Bengals.
This past week showed how exciting this season is going. There are plenty of teams with undefeated records or only one loss. This week promises to bring more surprises. Grab some pop corn and enjoy the show!
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