ALBUQUERQUE — Although spot-up 3 attempts gave the Cleveland Storm problems early on, CHS eventually did some damage taking more chances on such looks to outlast Hope Christian 67-61 in Tuesday’s APS Metro tournament opener at Cibola High.
“It’s just good when we get to drive and kick out to open 3s, have confidence in our teammates that they can hit it,” said Storm shooting guard Elijah Brody. “It gives us a lot of energy, gets us into it on defense.”
Brody drilled one from up top midway through the third quarter, sparking a succession of key plays.
“When someone makes a big shot like that in a close game, it just picks up the energy and makes everyone want to play harder on defense,” Brody said.
Storm shooting guard Nic Trujillo followed up on Brody’s 3-pointer with a layup off a backdoor cut. From there, Cleveland turned a few steals into easy transition buckets to make it a 50-41 Storm lead with 6:19 left in regulation.
“That means we’re getting our offense moving, we’re getting what we want,” Brody said.
Hope Christian kept chipping away at the deficit entering the final couple minutes, but Cleveland point guard Daniel Steverson help pad CHS’s lead for good with a spot-up 3 of his own from the top-left corner.
“When anybody on our team hits a shot, it’s just an energy booster for everyone to play, just stick together and communicate,” Steverson said.
Steverson scored 22 points for the Storm, while Trujillo tallied 14 points. Antonio Avila and Brody scored 10 and nine points, respectively.
Hope Christian’s Jett Wyckoff scored a game-high 24 points.
“3s, dunks and charges always give you momentum… It just gives confidence when you see the ball go through the net… We started getting some layups, we started getting some steals, so that kind of sparked us to get going,” Cleveland coach Sean Jimenez said.