Rio Rancho sophomore guard Jayme Archuleta (in white) came off the bench Friday and played some aggressive defense, tying up a Hawk and forcing a tie ball, and scoring 7 points by game’s end. (Herron photo)


The Rio Rancho High School girls basketball team opened its District 1-5A slate Friday evening at home with a 39-33 victory over Atrisco Heritage Academy.

It was the Rams’ sixth win in a row over the Jaguars (7-9, 0-2), although a bit closer than one would have thought after watching the sub-varsity games played earlier*.

“I am proud of our kids fighting through (foul trouble), with both our bigs on the bench,” coach Lori Mabrey said, “and we’re in the stretch with an eighth-grader (Jemma Estrada) and a kid playing out of position.

“But you know what? They weathered the storm, and that’s something that we have struggled with this season – we have had some close games, and we haven’t been able to get over that night,” she said. “And tonight I think we were able to get over that hump.”

The teams were knotted at the end of the first quarter, and after the Rams grabbed a 24-15 lead in the second stanza, AHA hit a couple of free throws to whittle the Rams’ lead to 24-17.

Julia Espinosa, one of the bigs who fouled out midway through the fourth period, scored eight of her 10 points in the first half.

The Jaguars got hot in the second half, closing out the third quarter on a 4-0 run to pull within 30-26 heading into the fourth quarter.

Mabrey did a slow burn in the final seconds of the third, imploring her girls not to foul – and Makenna Lee did just that, fouling Tatiana Magallanes on an attempted 3-pointer just before the buzzer; fortunately, the AHA reserve made only one of the three free throws she was give.

Once again, the Rams’ defense can be credited with the win, as AHA managed just two field goals in the third period and just one more in the fourth – meaning the Jaguars were held to nine or fewer points in all four quarters.

The Rams, though, weren’t a scoring machine, with three field goals in each of the final two quarters and a dismal outing at the charity stripe – 3 of 12 in the second half, 6 of 19 for the game. And RRHS had only one double-digit quarter – the second, with 16 points.

Lee, who Mabrey coached in her freshman year at Cibola High, led all scorers with 12 points.

“(Lee) is literally one of our best players, and she’s gonna have to understand that she needs to carry more of a defensive load. … She’s capable of taking more defensive load – she is – and I’m gonna stay on her till she does.”

(* The Rams’ C-team opened with a 61-13 victory over AHA, as Kaci McHugh and Angelina Perea each out-scored the AHA frosh with 16 points apiece. Then the RRHS junior varsity destroyed AHA, 62-10, with Neveah Little scoring 11 points, and Daysia Jack and Jolene Archuleta chipping in with 10 apiece.)

The Rams traveled to Carlsbad Saturday for a non-district contest.

This week, the Rams are at Cibola Tuesday and at Volcano Vista on Thursday evening.

Volcano Vista 68, Cleveland 50: For the 28th meeting in a row, the Hawks (15-3) defeated the Storm in a game played in the Ring of Fire the evening of Jan. 18.

The defending champs opened the game on a 15-2 run and never looked back, leading 24-11 after the first quarter and 45-30 at halftime.

Kindyll Sandoval sank four 3s and finished with a game-high 19 points, and point guard Aubrey Jaramillo joined her in double figures with 14.

Three Hawks were in double figures, led by the younger sister of Jade Hill, a former Storm standout, Taejhuan Hill, with 17 points.

The Storm have two games this week: Atrisco Heritage Academy visited the Thunderdome Tuesday evening and the Storm head down the hill to Cibola tonight (Jan. 26) for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff.