Cleveland High’s All-State linebacker Stratton Shufelt (in white) found himself outnumbered by four La Cueva basketball players Tuesday evening in second-half action of the host Storm’s 63-60 victory. Coincidentally, La Cueva is the school Shufelt and the Storm football team defeated in late November in the Class 6A championship football game. (Herron photo)
Maybe the missing ingredient during the Cleveland High boys’ basketball team’s recent two-game losing streak was junior Daniel Steverson.
Steverson, who played very briefly during the four-game APS Metro Championships, came off the bench frequently Tuesday evening, scoring a game-high 18 points in the Storm’s 63-60 come-from-behind win over La Cueva.
Initially, CHS coach Sean Jimenez had told the Observer he planned to keep Steverson out of action until the district slate began, but apparently, Steverson had recovered enough from an ankle injury to see action – and see action he did.
Only a few seconds after entering the game in the first quarter, he scored on a layup, and went on to score six first-half points. He scored four points in the third quarter, which ended with the Bears (9-5) ahead by eight, 50-42, and saved his best for last.
Steverson scored eight points in the fourth quarter, and his nifty spinning layup with 2:27 left in regulation gave the Storm the lead to keep, 57-55. He had seven points during the convincing 14-1 run, which catapulted CHS from a 54-45 deficit to a 59-55 lead.
Don’t give all the credit for the much-needed W to No. 5: Remy Albrecht scored 15 points, with a pair of 3-pointers; Josia Ortiz finished with 10 points, which included a fourth-quarter steal and dunk, as well as some key rebounds and a couple of blocked shots.
It was a good start to what would be three games in five games for the Storm.
Getting more points from the starters, better defense and fewer turnovers – less than a dozen – were factors.
Maybe the biggest factor in getting a win occurred the previous day.
“We had a good practice yesterday. We watched films for about an hour and a half; they had to see that West Mesa game (33-point loss on Jan. 7) and the Friday game (20-point loss to Sandia),” coach Sean Jimenez said. “Just to see what we need to work on, because it’s easy to tell them, but when you actually show them and they see it on film, I think they recognized that.
“And that’s what we did – we watched film and worked on it on the court and it paid off a little bit,” he said.
“Like I said about this team all year, they fight. They’re gonna fight to the end, no matter what the score is, so I’m just proud of these guys,” he added, “for just listening to the coaches, listening to their teammates and building on yesterday’s practices … one of our best practices.”
The Storm didn’t watch any film on La Cueva, he said.
“We can’t watch other teams right now until we fix what we need to fix on our side,” Jimenez said. “We got a scouting report, but we watched our film about how bad we were against West Mesa, defensively and offensively.”
Storm warnings: The Storm get another shot against Sandia Thursday on the Matadors’ court at 7:30 p.m. Sandia lost to Volcano Vista in the APS Metro Championships’ title game last Saturday. “Sandia’s damn good,” Jimenez said, “but I think if we have a good practice against them (Wednesday), we’ll be ready for them Thursday.”
… Cleveland’s District 1-5A opener with No. 1 Volcano Vista originally scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 17, has been moved to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, in the Thunderdome. It’s Cleveland’s only game of the week. The Hawks, last year’s undefeated state champs, beat Los Lunas Jan. 10 for their 45th win in a row.
… The Storm are ranked ninth in this week’s MaxPreps poll, used by the NMAA when determining state playoff brackets, and ninth in NMOT’s online cocahes poll.