When you’re the defending state-champion basketball team and you’ve just lost nine of your last 10 games, it raises a lot of questions — like, just how good is this team?

Visiting No. 4 Atrisco Heritage Academy found out the hard way Friday night in the Thunderdome, routed 54-43 by the No. 11 Cleveland Storm (12-12, 2-4 in District 1-5A).

Eighth-grader Remy Albrecht came off the bench to spark an 11-0 Storm run in the second quarter, scoring 5 of his game-high 17. He had a pair of 3-pointers, a twisting layup and even stole the ball in that decisive quarter.

When it ended, the Storm had themselves a 26-18 lead at halftime.

The Storm led at the end of the first quarter, 6-3 — more like a baseball final.

After that run, the Storm maintained their lead between 5 and 17 points, which peaked when Albrecht sank an NBN 3 — nothing but net – for a 46-29 bulge with 4:34 left in the contest.

By game’s end, the hosts had played better defensively, out-rebounded the Jaguars (17-6, 4-3) and handled the ball better, to the tune of only one turnover in the first period, three by intermission, and then nine in the second half. AHA finished, unofficially, with 11 turnovers and although the Jaguars made more treys than the Storm, six to three, the Storm’s percentage from behind the arc was much better.

In addition to Albrecht’s 17, Daniel Steverson, with 11 points, and Antonio Avila, with 10, were also in double figures.

JJ Torres led the Jaguars with 12 points, all via the 3, and Javier Mendoza and Colby Wade added 11 apiece.

Storm warnings: The Storm junior varsity team eked out a thrilling 45-44 victory before the varsity tilt, thanks to Damian Molina’s layup with :08 to go, with the young Jaguars missing what would have been a game-winning bucket at the buzzer.
… Not only did the Storm play like they have in the past, having been in the “final four” seven times in the last seven seasons and starting the 2021-22 season with 10 wins in their first 13 games, but the CHS pep band was back in the stands to help liven the atmosphere.

Cleveland’s Antonio Avila elevates for an uncontested layup in the second period Friday night. (Herron photo)