A pair of 10s: Cleveland’s Aubrey Jaramillo, left, looks for a teammate to pass to as she’s guarded by Abigayle Armijo ion the first Cleveland-Rio Rancho meeting this season. (Herron photo)
Friday night’s finale in the Cleveland High is a city showdown for second place in District 1-5A.
That’s because the host Cleveland Storm and visiting Rio Rancho Rams are each 4-3 in their district contests. Regarding both teams’ performances vs. Atrisco Heritage Academy, Friday’s losing team finishes in third place, AHA will be fourth and Cibola (3-22, 0-8) finishes in the cellar.
Going into Friday’s 7 p.m. tipoff, the Storm (14-1) have the better overall record, but lost to the Rams (12-13), 42-39, in their Feb. 1 meeting at RRHS.
In their regular-season penultimate contests Wednesday, the Storm won “down the hill” while district champ Volcano Vista held off a late charge in the RAC.
Cleveland 43, Cibola 37: Trailing early, Kindyll Sandoval’s second of four 3-pointers, coming late in the opening quarter, gave the Storm a 14-13 lead and they never trailed again.
Unfortunately, Sandoval, who led the Storm with 12 points, injured her left shoulder and missed the entire second quarter, but was back for the second half.
Cleveland upped its lead to 25-17 at halftime, and led by double digits, 38-28, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Cougars battled back to make it 38-34, but a 3 by Aubrey Sandoval gave her team some breathing room and although Cleveland managed only five points in the fourth quarter, Cibola couldn’t take advantage of errant shots by the Storm.
You could say the Storm had a balanced attack in the Cougars’ lair: seven 3s, seven 2s and eight free throws.
“I told the kids its’s their Senior Night and they’ll come out with emotion,” Storm coach Susan Kubala said.
On Friday night, the Storm will celebrate Senior Night, saying goodbye to 12th graders Emma Ortiz, Aaliyah Ayanniyi and Leilani Tenorio.
Volcano Vista 49, Rio Rancho 40: Trailing by 13 at halftime and down by as many as 19 in the second half, the host Rams gave it their best in the fourth quarter, reducing the deficit to seven before succumbing to the Hawks (22-3, 7-0).
Along the way RRHS eighth-grader Jemmah Estrada had a 6-0 run of her own, all from the foul line.
Although not known for their long-range prowess, four of the Rams’ first five field goals were 3-pointers.
Tamiera Smyth was the lone Ram in double figures with 10 points.
In their Feb. 9 games …
Cleveland 69, Atrisco Heritage Academy 41: The Storm finished the season with a sweep of the visiting Jaguars, who had beaten the visiting Rams two nights earlier.
Cleveland building upon its 30-17 halftime edge to take a comfortable 49-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
Sandoval had three 3-pointers and a team-high 17 points, with teammates Malia Mose, with 15, and KC Winters, with 10, joining her in double figures.
Rio Rancho 56, Cibola 36: First-year Rams coach Lori Mabrey led her team to an easy victory over her previous school, as former Cougar Makenna Lee led the host Rams with 20 points.
The Rams bounced back from a disappointing 43-40 loss at AHA two nights earlier, when the Jaguars closed out their victory on a 10-2 run. Lee had 13 in that game, with Estrada joining her in double figures with 10.
What it made the loss disappointing is the fact that the Rams trailed by double figures, 26-16, at halftime, then took the lead with an 11-0 run to start the second half.
Dribbles: In the latest MaxPreps rankings, among the criteria used by the NMAA in seeding the 16-team postseason tournament, Cleveland was No. 15 and the Rams were one slot behind them.
… AHA (10-14, 3-4) and Volcano Vista meet in the other finale Friday in the VVHS Ring of Fire. If the Jaguars can upset the Hawks, their 4-4 record would tie them with Friday’s loser in the RAC – but Cleveland swept the Jaguars and the Rams have the point differential, winning 39-33 and losing 43-40, and thus given the edge for third place.
… The District 1-5A girls tournament begins Monday, with Cibola at AHA. That game’s winner then plays at the site of the Rams-Storm loser on Tuesday. The 1-5A championship game will be at VVHS on Friday at 7 p.m.