District prep hoop battles heat up in Metro

Feature photo: Atrisco Heritage star Joziah Ramos, left, drives against Cleveland’s Trey Ortega during the Jaguars’ 70-68 win last week (Russell Gurule/Enchantment Sports).

By Sebastian Noel

Enchantment Sports Staff Writer

There is nothing like district play in the Albuquerque metro area.  I throw that caveat in there because my prep colleague often likes to wax poetically about highly noncompetitive districts down south.

Last week could have been a one for the Valley Vikings (12-6).

Highland (10-7) and Hope (11-9) were on the schedule, with a chance to start the district slate 4-0, in the district that at times has had every member in the top 10 of the coaches poll.

Tuesday’s show down at Warren Smart Gymnasium was a potential preview of the state championship game. It was a match up so important that I brought a Highland and Lobo basketball legend, Chad Adams, into the broadcast booth.

As the game progressed it became obvious Valley, like every one else in the city, had no answer for 6-foot-8 sophomore Jose Murillo. But 22 points, 17 rebounds and five blocks weren’t enough, as Valley protected its home floor with a 65-52 victory against the Hornets.Windsor

Back to Chad Adams.  The former Lobo big man was a lot of fun to do the game with. Not because of what he said, but his facial expressions which I realize doesn’t make for great television.

I would look over as Murillo, now nicknamed “El Gigante,” was dominating and Adams started with looks of surprise and amazement, but those soon turned to nods of approval and admiration from one Highland big man to another.

I told Adams during pregame warmups that Murillo was legit, and Adams was seeing a resounding confirmation of that in front of his own eyes.

As good as Murillo was, Valley was better. It’s simple math, Murillo’s two-point field goals weren’t gonna beat Valley’s 3-point field goals. Balanced scoring and a great spark off the bench from Marcus Voss sealed the win.

By the way, remember the name Marcus Voss.  He has Pit hero written all over him.

The Book

Del Norte (10-8) was able to defeat Bernalillo (8-11) that night, a much needed win for the Knights.

Then came the surprise score of the night from that district. Albuquerque Academy (11-6) 69, Hope Christian 68.

Enter Thursday’s slate.  Valley at Hope, as mentioned before chance to go 4-0 in district. The Huskies wouldn’t allow it and beat Valley 75-69.

The district’s surprise this night would be authored by the Knights.  Highland desperately needed a bounce-back win. But it couldn’t storm the Castle, the Knights protected their home fortress 44-42. Graphic Connection

In a game few thought had much meaning, Manzano (7-11) defeated Albuquerque High (6-12) 50-48. I tried to talk myself into believing if the Bulldogs could protect their home floor and steal one game from the Santa Fe schools in district play, maybe they get into the tournament, but now, with this loss at home, I just can’t believe in the Bulldogs anymore.

Speaking of the Santa Fe schools, they put on the game of the night in front of close to 4,000 fans at Toby Roybal Gymnasium. The Demons (16-3) won this round, 53-48, against Capital.

Let’s look ahead to this week.

Kayembe Lukusa of West Mesa dunk
West Mesa’s Kayembe Lukusa slams during the Mustangs’ rout of Eldorado (Russell Gurule/Enchantment Sports).

With Valley and Del Norte tied at 3-1, the Vikings will face Albuquerque Academy and Bernalillo this week. Meanwhile,  the Knights are at Hope and host Academy.

West Mesa (9-10), coming off a surprising 65-47 beat-down of first-place Eldorado (16-3), has a suddenly crucial game against La Cueva (10-8). No team is a bigger enigma than the Bears, and the Mustangs playoff hopes can not withstand a let down game against the Bears. It’s a must-win game against La Cueva.

Speaking of must win, Cleveland (17-3) is winless in three district games and has to win at Rio Rancho (11-9) and at home against Volcano Vista (16-3) or a double-digit seed for state is inevitable.

Sean and Storm
Coach Sean Jimenez and the Cleveland Storm have lost three straight after a 17-0 start (Russell Gurule/Enchantment Sports).

If you are looking for an upset this week, I might steer you to Wednesday’s Volcano Vista at Atrisco Heritage (13-6) matchup. It would be just a slight upset in terms of overall records, whereas the Jaguars actually lead the district.

The Jaguars are really tough at home. Best student section in the city. Joziah Ramos. Go enjoy basketball.


Sebastian Noel is a play-by-play announcer for ProView Networks and host of “Local Focus w/ Sebastian Noel,” airing weeknights at 10 p.m., on ProView.

Noel, also serves as the on-field reporter during the My50TV game of the week during the football season and is a frequent contributor to Enchantment Sports.

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