For the second year in a row, the Cleveland High boys basketball team came up short in the championship game of its Phil Griego Invite.
Griego is a former Storm assistant coach who passed away.
The Storm (3-1), who lost the championship game last year in the tournament’s debut to Volcano Vista, fell in overtime to West Mesa, 66-63, Saturday afternoon.
Former CHS two-sport standout Elijah Brody’s layup “and one” with 22 seconds left in the third quarter came in the midst of a 16-3 Mustangs run, (4-2). The Storm led only once after that, 56-55, extended to 58-55 when Daniel Steverson sank two free throws with 34 seconds to go.
When Mustang Sonny Ortiz notched a 3-pointer with 14 seconds to go, it led to overtime.
The Storm last led 63-60, with the Mustangs scoring the game’s final six points.
Brody, saddled with his fourth foul with more than seven minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, had a baseline layup in OT for his team’s 64-62 lead.
Steverson missed what would have been a buzzer-tying 3 from about half court.
“It feels good to be back. It feels good to play against some of the dudes I used to get to play with all the time,” Brody said. He transferred to WMHS after his father, Landrick Brody, became the Mustangs’ head football coach. “It felt great to come back out here and win this game.”
Steverson led the Storm with 22, and Remy Albrecht, with four 3s, had 17 – all in the first half.
The 3s were falling for Cleveland in the first half, when it made five of 12 attempts. That percentage dropped severely in the second half, when CHS made only two of 12 from behind the arc, not counting Steverson’s late long shot.
Ortiz had a team-high 21 points, Brody had 15 and Torrance Burdex had 12.
On their way to the championship game, the Storm clobbered Piedra Vista in the first round and then whipped Roswell in a semifinal. West Mesa beat Menaul and Carlsbad on its way to the showdown with the Storm.
“It was a good three days,” CHS coach Sean Jimenez said. “All of the teams were very thankful for being invited … We had our chances in the championship game to win but just fell short.
“I’m proud of our team’s effort, and we are looking forward to practice on (Dec. 12).”
Storm 82, Roswell 52: On Friday evening, the Storm racked up a lopsided win.
Steverson led the way with 28 points, Albrecht scored 16 and Isaiah Sandoval, who had his team’s two 3s in the second half of the championship game, added 15.
The easy win advanced the Storm into the title tilt on Saturday.
Storm 78, Piedra Vista 15: If ever a game was the proverbial “over early,” it was this Dec. 8 first-round clash.
The Storm scored the game’s first 45 points – that’s not a typo. It was the largest margin of victory in school history.
Cleveland held a 23-0 lead after the first period, with the Panthers, losing for the seventh time in as many starts, didn’t score until two minutes before halftime and didn’t get their first field goal until 1:33 remained in the half.
The lopsided affair had the Storm ahead 51-6 at intermission, 66-13 after three periods and then out-scoring PV 12-2 in the quickly played fourth quarter, with the mercy rule running the clock in effect.
Draining five 3-pointers – appropriately matching his jersey number, 3 – Albrecht led the Storm with 19 points, single-handedly outscoring the paltry Panthers.
Jimenez got all of his players into the game, and 12 of them scored.
Storm warnings: Cleveland heads down I-25 to face Mayfield on Friday evening, then is home Saturday at 3 to face Centennial. The first class of the CHS Athletics Hall of Fame will be introduced at the game and formally inducted into the new hall later that evening.
… Next week, Cleveland plays at Santa Fe on Tuesday, then is home Wednesday at 7 p.m. to entertain Española Valley.