As Daniel Steverson (5) goes, so go the Storm. Steverson is the District 1-5A Player of the Year, scoring a total of 35 points in his team’s win over Rio Rancho and the loss to Volcano Vista. (Herron photo)



And now it really begins: The hectic District 1-5A tournament is over, the Class 5A brackets are complete and the city boys’ basketball teams have first-round home games Saturday.

The No. 7 Storm (20-8) meet No. 10 Eldorado (18-11) in the Thunderdome at 5 p.m. The Storm and Eagles haven’t met since a 2020 APS Metro contest; the Storm are 4-2 all-time vs. the Northeast Heights team, coached by Roy Sanchez.

The No. 8 Rams (18-10) take on No. 9 Atrisco Heritage Academy (20-8) in the RAC at 7 p.m. It’ll be the fourth meeting of the season for the Rams and Jaguars, whom the Rams beat 44-41 last week in the district tournament.

Here’s what happened on the hardwood last week.

Volcano Vista 70, Cleveland 42: What seemed midway through the third period to be a game that could go down to the wire turned into a one-sided win for the No. 1 Hawks (25-1) in their Ring of Fire Saturday evening.

A layup by Noah Padilla had just reduced the Hawks’ lead to 35-33, but that was as close as the Storm would get in the District 1-5A championship game.

The Hawks (25-1) caught fire, closing out the remaining 12 or so minutes of the game on a 35-9 run.

“During that time period, we couldn’t play defense that well, we couldn’t hit shots – when you do that against a good team, that’s why you end up losing by whatever that is, 28 points,” CHS coach Sean Jimenez said.

The Hawks’ two bigs, senior Sean Alter and sophomore Kenyon Aguino, took care of rebounds at both ends of the court and combined to score 31 points.

Daniel Steverson led the Storm with 15 points.

Jimenez said other coaches might have tried to slow down a game like that, but not him.

“We weren’t moving the ball that well; to score 42 points against them, you’re not going to win,” he said. “I’m not a coach that likes to hold the ball and stall and shorten the game; that won’t ever be me. We’ve just got to get better on the offensive end.”

The Storm remain the only team to beat the Hawks this year, ending what had been a 47-game winning streak in the Thunderdome in January. The Hawks won the next two meetings in the Ring of Fire.

“We’ve got to get ready for our first-round state game Saturday,” Jimenez said, looking forward to a postseason game in his own gym, as opposed to last year’s first-round season-ending loss in Los Lunas.

Cleveland 48, Rio Rancho 40: Rams senior Maddox Presser scored the game’s first basket Thursday evening in the Thunderdome, but it accounted for the last points he’d score in the game and the last time the Rams had the lead.

The Storm scored the next six points and never trailed again, their lead ranging from two to 10 points, with a tie at 15-all, before pulling off a 48-40 victory over the Rams.

The Rams were plagued by poor free-throw shooting throughout the game Thursday, and no coach would be happy with a 7 of 17 outing from the charity stripe. The Storm were 12 of 18, but Jimenez said he wasn’t overly happy with that: “I want 75, 80. Eighty would be perfect, because as coaches, we always have that goal up there. But 67% is a little low.”.

The Storm led after the first quarter, 12-9, and maintained that three-point edge at halftime, 24-21.

The 33-29 CHS lead after the third period, dissolved when Jayden Johnson snagged a Storm turnover and scored on a layup to make it 33-31, but that was as close as his team would get.

With 6:53 to go, Steverson was fouled and uncharacteristically missed two free throws, only to find himself back at the line 30 seconds later, on Jamal Bynum’s third foul of the game, and sink both to make it 35-31.

“We go as he goes,” Jimenez said of No. 5. “When we played them last Thursday night, he was trying to shoot right away, and they packed him in. So we told him, start driving and kicking instead of driving and shooting, and it opens the game for him.”

Steverson played like a man possessed, scoring 12 of his team-high 20 points I the fourth quarter, when he was 3 of 5 at the line and sank n off-balance 3-pointer a moment before he could be called for traveling. He concluded his team’s scoring on a nifty alley-oop bucket and sank the ensuing “and one.”

Cleveland was 6 of 10 at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, while the Rams were 3 of 7, and missed the front end of a one-and-one, which cost them two more possible points.

“One for 12 (from 3-point range) ain’t gonna cut it,” Salata said. The Storm were 6 of 19 from behind the arc with four of their five starters, plus reserve Isaiah Sandoval, having at least one 3-pointer.

“We won a game last night (at AHA) and had to play back-to-back; that’s how it is at state. But the thing is, we held them under 500 – we’ve just got to figure things out offensively

“When we cut it to two, we had shots and we couldn’t put it in. Our shooting tonight was atrocious.”

Jimenez was happy with the way his team defended Presser, who scored 16 and 15 points in the teams’ first two meetings, with three-time All-State linebacker Stratton Shufelt muscling him around in the paint.

Rio Rancho 44, Atrisco Heritage Academy 41: A 17-8 first-quarter advantage on the evening of Feb. 22 was more than the visiting fourth-place Jaguars could overcome, as the Rams moved into the Feb. 23 semifinal contest at Cleveland.

Johnson led the Rams with 11 points; Mikey Wood was also in double figures with 10.

Dribbles: Last week, Steverson was named the 1-5A Player of the Year, with teammates Remy Albrecht and Nic Trujillo joining him on the first team; Josia Ortiz was an honorable mention selection.

… Bynum was named the 1-5A defensive Player of the Year and was joined on the first team by Johnson and Presser; Mikey Wood was honorable mention.