State hoops tips off Friday for girls, Saturday for boys

It’s time for the madness that comes in March

Three of Rio Rancho’s four high school basketball teams were slotted into Class 5A brackets for the state tournament.

Girls’ first-round games will be played Friday. Boys’ first-rounders will be contested Saturday.

Cleveland High girls

The Storm (16-11), who finished second in District 1-5A, received the 10 seed and head to Carlsbad for their 6 p.m. game Friday. Carlsbad (21-7) received the 7 seed.

The schools haven’t met on the hardwood since Carlsbad beat the Storm 33-17 in the Gallup Tournament on Dec. 2, 2016. That was their only meeting.

The Cavegirls were the District 4-5A runners-up.

The teams had four common opponents this season: Both beat Clovis; the Storm beat organ Mountain, but Carlsbad did not; and the Cavegirls beat Las Cruces and Mayfield, while the Storm lost to both.

Other first-round girls’ games

In other first-round games Friday, No. 16 Santa Fe (18-9) visits No. 1 Volcano Vista (25-0), which won last year’s title and is on a 38-game winning streak; No. 9 Mayfield (17-11) is at No. 8 Centennial (19-9) in Las Cruces; No. 12 Clovis (18-10) visits No. 5 Las Cruces (21-7) and No. 13 Eldorado (12-13) heads to No. 4 Farmington (26-2).

On the boom half of the bracket, where the Storm-Cavegirls’ game sits, No. 14 Sandia (17-10) makes the short trip to No. 3 La Cueva (19-6), No. 11 Albuquerque High heads down I-25 to No. 6 Organ Mountain (21-8) and No. 2 Hobbs (20-7) entertains No. 15 Piedra Vista (16-11).

The winner of the Cleveland-Carlsbad game plays the winner of the Hobbs-PV game on March 8, in a quarterfinals match-up at the home of the highest seed.

The girls’ semifinal games will be held in The Pit on March 10, with the championship game tipping off at 6 p.m. in the Pit on March 11.

Rio Rancho High girls

For the third year in a row, the Rams (14-14) did not make the state tournament.

Playing in the District 1-5A championship game at Volcano Vista’s Ring of Fire on Feb. 26, the unbeaten Hawks whipped the Rams, 64-21.

Rio Rancho boys

The Rams boys (16-10) got the 7 seed, one off the 6 coach Wally Salata predicted.

They’ll host Carlsbad, the District 4-5A runner-up, Saturday at 6 in the RAC. The Rams were the second-place finisher in 1-5A.

It’ll be the second meeting of the season between the Rams and the Cavemen (22-6), who met Dec. 2 in the City of Champions Classic in Artesia. The Rams eked out a 44-43 win.

“A lot has changed since that game,” Salata said. “Jamal (Bynum) and Mikey (Wood) were coming off the soccer and football fields; Jeremiah Morris didn’t play.

“We are a different team now,” he said. “It’s an advantage to (have played) them early in the year.

They’ve had two common opponents: Each team has beaten Artesia and Roswell this season.

All-time the Rams are 3-3 vs. the Cavemen, including their Artesia get-together three months ago.

The schools first met Dec. 3, 1998, at the Bruce King Invite in Moriarty, which was the third game in the Rams’ inaugural season, and the Cavemen won easily, 83-55.

Carlsbad won the next two meetings as well, and 79-64 in the RAC in January 2013.and 70-47 in Carlsbad in January 2014.

Then it was the Rams’ turn to win three in a row: 56-54 in the state championship game in The Pit in March 2016 and 63-58 at another City of Champions Classic in Artesia in December 2016.

Cleveland High boys

After winning 10 of their first 13 games, and then losing 12 of their next 15 games, it’s no surprise the Storm – the defending 5A champion – received their lowest seed since a 12 in the 2010-12 season.

The No. 11 Storm (13-15) head down I-25 to face No. 6 Los Lunas (20-8), the District 5-5A champ, Saturday at 6.

The teams had six common opponents this season: Both beat Santa Fe and Albuquerque High; both have lost to Hobbs, Atrisco Heritage Academy, Las Cruces and Volcano Vista – the Storm have lost four times to the Hawks; and split with Piedra Vista, which the Tigers lost to in their opener and the Storm beat by 52 points.

All-time, the Storm are 4-1 vs. the Tigers, beginning with an 83-65 victory over Los Lunas in Cleveland’s third game of its inaugural 2009-10 season.

After that, CHS beat Los Lunas 68-59 at CHS on Jan. 2, 2014; the Storm won a 57-24 game in Los Lunas on Dec. 4, 2014; the Storm beat Los Lunas 67-63 on Dec. 10, 2016, in the Cleveland round-robin; and the Storm lost to Los Lunas, 74-69, on Dec. 9, 2017, also in the Cleveland round-robin.

Other first-round boys’ games

On the top half of the bracket, No. 16 Albuquerque High (11-15) travels to No. 1 Las Cruces (28-0), No. 9 Sandia (17-9) visits No. 8 Santa Fe (22-5), No. 12 Eldorado (13-14) heads to No. 5 Atrisco Heritage Academy (18-8) and No. 4 Hobbs (25-2) entertains No. 13 Farmington (20-8).

On the bottom half of the bracket, besides the Rams’ and Storm’s games, No. 2 Volcano Vista (25-0) hosts No. 15 Organ Mountain (15-14), and No. 3 La Cueva (22-3) is home to meet No. 14 West Mesa (11-14).

The rams’ Cavemen winner meets the winner of the Volcano Vista-Organ Mountain game; the Storm-Tigers winner meets the winner of the La Cueva-West Mesa game. Higher seeds play host for the quarterfinal games on March 9.

The boys’ semifinal games will be held in The Pit on March 11, with the championship game tipping off at 8 p.m. in the Pit on March 12,


The Storm’s Daniel Steverson (2) and Josia Ortiz (22), plus Rio Rancho’s Maddox Presser (45) as a shot leaves RRHS’s Mikey Wood (20) in the 1-5A second-rounder in the RAC last week. (Herron photo)