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OFFERING CONSOLATION: Gov. Susanna Martinez visits with Julie Ann Benner, widow of slain Rio Rancho police officer Gregg "Nigel" Benner, at Thursday's funeral.

Posted June 3, 2015
Thousands gather to pay final respects to Benner


Thousands gathered Thursday to pay final respects to Rio Rancho police officer Gregg “Nigel” Benner, who was shot and killed on Memorial Day while trying to execute a routine traffic stop.

Approximately 2,000 people, including Gov. Susanna Martinez and public safety officers and officials from around the state attended the  funeral service at the Santa Ana Star Center.

At least that many more lined the procession route on Unser from Paseo del Volcan to  Northern,  then Northern the turnoff to police headquarters just west of  NM 528.The procession itself, which included those public safety officials from jurisdictions around the state, stretched at least as far as the Northern to the station leg of the trip.

Vehicles trying to turn into the Vista Hills area off Northern was backed up at least 10 vehicles deep and many drivers in the traffic jam simply turned off their  engines, entered the median and saluted the caravan as it made its way.

Two suspects have been charged with Benner’s murder.

Martinez and Rio Rancho police chief Michael Geier spoke eloquently to the audience, and friend Tolzmann recounted how Benner had to  donate blood for two years to get enough money to fix up a used dirt bike. The service also included a poem reading by Erin Rogers, invocation by pastor Robert Hall, religious message from pastor Jeff Carr, a taped song called "Chasing  Cars" by Snow Patrol and benediction by Hall. Chaplain Gregg Hartz served as  the master of ceremonies of the event.

More to come


ENTERING PROSESSION: An honor guard from the New Mexico State Police escorted the casket and as is tradition stood guard during the entire funeral service, which lasted about 90 minutes.

Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2015

PAYING TRIBUTE: Mayor Gregg Hull addresses the crowd at Tuesday's candlelight vigil for Rio Rancho police officer Gregg Benner, who was shot and killed in the line  of duty on Monday. 


Crowd estimated at 2,000 attends
candlelight vigil for slain police officer


A crowd estimated at least 2,000 gathered at Haynes Park in Rio Rancho on Tuesday for a candlelight vigil honoring slain police officer Gregg Benner.

Benner was shot and killed on Memorial Day near the intersection of Southern and Pinetree after making a routine traffic stop. A suspect with a lengthy police record was arrested in Albuquerque early Tuesday morning.

The details of the shooting and the suspect’s background are available on many other media outlets. This report hopes to concentrate instead on Tuesday’s service and convey the sense of tribute, mourning and honor that those in attendance conveyed.

As the crowd trickled in from all sides of the park, one could not help but notice, as Mayor Gregg Hull noted, that families with small children played and teenagers used the basketball court – freedoms guaranteed by Officer Benner and the rest of the city’s police department.

Hull, city police chief Michael Geier, and pastors Jeff Carr of Mesa Baptist Church and Robert Hall of Cavalry Chapel addressed the crowd.
Surprisingly, so did Benner’s widow Julie, who simply thanked the public and government officials for their support in a one-sentence statement that brought the loudest applause of the night.

A vast majority of the crowd, when prompted, lit candles distributed or that they brought themselves. Others honored Officer Benner by using the lights on their cell phones.

This act – and the entire gathering, in fact – showed a rare sign of public unity in Rio Rancho. In light of protests against police throughout the country, including neighboring Albuquerque, Chief Geier said the show of support was “overwhelming.”

“I want you to know how very much this means to the law enforcement community to see this show of support,” said Carr, a volunteer chaplain with the police department. “Officer Benner’s death is a reminder to all of us of the danger that is inherited in being a police officer. There are no routine traffic stops.

“There are evil people in this world, and each and every day men and women like Nigel Benner stand between us and those evil-doers. In a very real sense, Officer Benner died in your place and mine. Anyone who would kill a police officer would have no problem killing you or me or one of our loved ones.

“For this reason alone, we should be very grateful and supportive of the men and women of the thin blue line that stand between us and the evil-doers.”

Geier said Benner, 49, was “just a father, just a husband, just a grandfather, just a neighbor, just a police officer” who had been on the force four years as a second career after serving in the military.

Hull pointed out the differences between the deceased officer and his killer, saying Benner was “a hero who would be long remembered.”

Pastor Hall spoke in more religious terms and philosophy, including a recitation of the 23rd Psalm.

Even as the service was adjourned, much of the crowd lingered about long after the service as if they didn’t want to let go. Many kept their candles or alternative lighting going long after the service.

Hull said specifics of additional funeral services and tributes have not been determined. He also said city flags will be lowered to half-mast starting Wednesday and he expected state-wide flags to be lowered after Gov. Susanna Martinez issues a proclamation, which under state policy can only be in effect on the day of an actual funeral.

Posted Friday, March 13, 2015

SCORING LEADERS: Marcus Williams (above) shared team honors for top scorer with Ryan Jones, while Zach Garretson (below) had 25 in his final game for the Rams.

Storm streak past Albuquerque High;
Hobbs spoils Rams' hopes for a title

There is good news and bad news for boys high school basketball fans in Rio Rancho.

The good news is the City of Vision will be represented in the state tournament championship game for the first time in eight years.

The bad: The Hobbs Eagle ruined the dream matchup of an all-city matchup in the title game.

Ryan Jones and Marcus Williams provided the 1-2 punch Thursday as Cleveland dominated Albuquerque High 81-60. They were actually 1 and 1A, as both scored 23 points for the Storm.

No. 2 Cleveland (26-2) will take on No. 1 Hobbs (29-2) in the state title game Saturday at 8 p.m. The Eagles knocked out Rio Rancho 99-6 with a 1-2-3 punch as Kelvin Jones, Trey Nelson and Joshua Ruiz each scored more than 20 points.

The championship game is scheduled to tip off at 8 p.m. It will be broadcast on Rio Rancho-based 101.7 FM and streamed live through the New Mexico Activities Association web site.


Ryan Jones and Marcus Williams scored 23 points each and Josiah Mahoub helped shut down Albuquerque High’s outside shooting game.

The Storm used two big runs to open up a substantial halftime lead.

Trailing 6-0 early on, Cleveland scored 16 straight points to take a lead they never relinquished. Jones was the instigator, scoring two three-pointers and a total of eight points in that stretch.

After the Bulldogs narrowed the gap to 18-13, Cleveland went on a nine-point streak. Keyshawn Tindal hit a long jumper to kick it off; and Williams closed it out with two free throws. The margin at that point was 14 and it was never below double figures again.

If there was any doubt at intermission, the Storm ended it by scoring the first eight points out of the locker room. Williams had two baskets and fed Mahboub for an easy fast break layup during that streak.

The lead was 22 at that point; it crested at 23 later in the quarter.

Cleveland was focused on stopping Albuquerque High’s outside shooters, and it worked. The Bulldogs were just 4-of-22 beyond the arch (18 percent) and couldn’t get much going inside, either, after the initial opening sequence.

The fourth quarter was a marathon, as the teams combined for 42 free throw attempts after only 15 in the first three quarters. The Storm made just one field goal in the final period but went 21-of-33 in the last eight minutes.

Tommy Holtry 1-5 2-2 5; Randy Castillo 0-2 3-4 3; Jai Douglass 0-1 0-0 0; Cole Perez 0-2 0-0 0; Lorenzo Cantoija 2-2 1-1 5; Gabe Bump 4-15 7-9 16; Alonso Armijo 3-11 3-4 11; Silas Cole 0-0 0-0 0; Yarrick Ilunge 1-4 2-2 4; Joquin Montano 9-4 2-2 2; Christian Enriquez  1-30-0 2; Augustin Naranjo 1-3 0-0 2; Ray Cole 4-5 1-2 9; Dago Barreras 1-3 1-1 3. TOTALS 17-57 222-27 60.

Keyshawn Tindal 3-5 1-2 7; Marcus Gibson 2-4 0-0 4;  Ryan Jones  6-12 9-13 23;   
Marcus Williams 9-11 5-7 23; Gabe Ortega 1-2 0-0 3; Andrew Garcia 0-0 0-0 0; Ryan Patrick 1-1 0-1 2; Josiah Mahboub 1-3 11-14 13; Justin Davis 0-3 2-2 2; Jayden Phillips 0-0 0-1 2; Adam Cook 0-0 0-0 2; Henry Hattis 1-6 1-2 3. TOTALS 24-47 30-43 81.

Albuquerque High…. 06…..14…..19…..21 – 60
Cleveland …………..…16…..19…..23…..23 -- 81

    Three-point goals: AHS 4-22 (Holtry 1-3, Castillo 0-2, Douglas 0-1, Perez 0-1, Bump 1-4, Armijo 2-9, R. Cole 0-1, Bareras 0-1); CHS 3-6 (Jones 2-4, Ortega 1-1, Davis 0-1. Total fouls: AHS 31, CHS 22. Fouled out: Ilunga, R. Cole,
Rebounds:  AHS 38 (Bump 5, Ilunga 5), CHS 43 (Williams 14). Assists: AHS 6 (Armijo , Ilunga 2); CHS 13 (Jone 3, Mahboub 3, Patrick 2).
    Two-point shooting percentages: AHS 24 percent (6-25) first half, 34 second half (11-32), 30 percent (17-57) game; CHS 56 percent (14-25) first half, 45 percent (10-27) second half, 51 percent (24-47) game.
    Three-point shooting percentages: AHS 2-11 (18 percent) first half, 16 second half (2-11), 18 percent (4-22) game; CHS 2-5 (40 percent) first half, 100 (1-1) second half, 50 percent (3-6) game.
    Free throw shooting percentages: AHS 75 percent (6-8) first half, 84 (16-19) second half, 81 percent 22-27 game; CHS 63 percent (5-8) first half, 71 (21-31) second half, 70 percent (30-43) game. 
    Officials: Lisa Romero, Mike Broomfield, Kirk Meyer.


The Eagles displayed their traditional race-horse style, often beating the Rams’ press for easy baskets. Hobbs went over the top of Rio Rancho’s backcourt traps, throwing three-quarter of the court length passes to big men Jones (6-11) or Ruiz who either fed teammates for easy baskets ore drove for one themselves. As a result, the Eagles shot 60 percent from the field, including 67 percent in the first half when it built a 53-38 lead.

Just as in Wednesday’s quarterfinal match against Valley, the Rams fell behind early. But on this night Rio Rancho’s hope for a comeback were hampered when star guard Brady Patterson picked up two quick fouls and then a third before the quarter ended.

With all that against the Rams, it must also be said that the Eagles executed its offense to near perfection. Hobbs sank 13 of 21 shots (62 percent) in the first quarter and only got better in the second, sinking 11 of 15 attempts(73.3 percent.)

The Rams hung with Hobbs in the second half, but the lead was never less than double digits. With Patterson on the bench after getting his fourth foul late in the third quarter, Hobbs stretched the margin to as much as 26 points in the final period.

Patterson, who will attend Eastern New Mexico on a basketball scholarship next fall, fouled out with 2:25 left in the game with 11 points.

Hobbs had only one chance to reach triple digits, but turned the ball over in the closing seconds.

Playing his final game as a Ram, Zach Garretson led Rio Rancho with 25 points and 12 rebounds. 
Sophomores Jeremy Snyder and Juan Hurt scored 11 and 10 respectively for Rio Rancho, which finished the year 23-8. 

No. 4  RIO RANCHO RAMS  (76)
Anthony Armijo 0-0 2-2 2; Juan Hurt 4-5 0-0 10; Clay Patterson 2-8 0-0 4; Brady Patterson 3-10 4-5 10; Zach Garretson 7-12 9-11 25; Carlos Sanchez 0-4 0-1 0; Jeremy Snider 4-7 3-4 11; Dakota Carrasco 1-2 0-0 2; Isaiah Ortiz y Pino 3-4 0-1 6; Derrick Reyes 1-2 0-0 2; Chris Sisneros 1-4 2-4 4; Walter Salata 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 26-59 20-28 76. 

Jordan Gonzales 3-8 0-0 6; Jordan Black 0-0 0-0 0; Trey Nelson 10-15 2-2 23; Andre Foster 3-5 4-5 10; Pierre Swain 2-4 0-0 4; Nick Lopez 1-4 1-3 3; Jeffrey Poe 3-5 0-0 6; Nathan Smith 1-2 0-0 2; Joshua Ruiz 10-13 1-2 1; Kevin Jones 10-16 4-9 24. TOTALS 43-72 12-21 99. 

Rio Rancho… 23…..15…..25…..13 – 76
Hobbs …….….30…..23…..24…..22 -- 99

    Three-point goals: RRHS 4-9 (Hurt 2-2, C. Patterson 0-5, B. Patterson 0-3, Garretson 2-4, Sanchez 0-2, Snider 0-1, Sisneros 0-1, Salata 0-1); HHS 1-4 (Black 0-1, Nelson 1-3). Total fouls: RRHS 21, Hobbs 22. Fouled out: B. Patterson.
Rebounds: RRHS 43 (Garretson 12, Sanchez 6, Snider 6), HHS 36 (Jones 16, Ruiz 6).
Assists: RRHS 12 (Sanchez 3, Hurt 2, B. Patterson 2, Garretson 2, Ortiz y Pino 2); HHS 23 (Nelson 7, Foster 4, Lopez 4, Ruiz 4, Gonzales 2).
    Two-point shooting percentages: RRHS 47 (14-30) first half, (12-29) 41 second half, 44 (26-59) game; HHS 56 percent first half (24-36), 53 (19-36) 60 second half, 60 game. (43-72)
    Three-point shooting percentages: RRHS 20 (2-10) first half, 22 second half (2-9), 21 (4-19) game; HHS 1-2 (50 percent) first half, 0 (0-2) second half, 25 (1-4) game.
    Free throw shooting percentages: RRHS 73 (8-11) first half, 71 (12-17) second half, (71 (20-29) game; HHS 50 (4-8) first half, 62 (8-13) second half, 57 (12-21) game.   
    Officials: Dan Lewis, William Wright, Robert McDonald.

Posted Thursday, March 12, 2015

THE BIGGEST HOLE: Valley's Seguin Oyeku (23) scores over Rio Rancho defender Chris Sisneros (34) in the firt quarter as Brady Patterson (21) looks on. The basket gave Valley a 17-4 lead, the largest deficit the Rams faced all night. Patterson scored 21 points, including the game-winning basket with 2.5 seconds left, to lea Rio Rancho to a 59-57 come-from behind victory over the Vikings.

INSIDE BATTLE: Cleveland's Josiah Mahboub (22) puts up a shot between Sandia defender Caleb Wroten (50) and Sam Crews (4). Cleveland overcame 31 points from Crews to defeat the Matadors 81-77 in double overtime and advance to the state tournament semifinals at 4:45 p.m. Thursday.

Cleveland rallies to defeat Sandia in 2OT;
Patterson jumper lifts Rams past Valley

Rio Rancho’s two boys high school basketball teams had so much fun making it University Arena for the in the Class 6A tournament that they decided to share the excitement.

Brady Patterson hit a 15-foot jumper with 2.5 seconds left Wednesday night to give Rio Rancho High a dramatic 59-57 come-from-behind victory over Valley in a game that lasted until about 11:15 p.m.

The game ran late in large part because the Rams’ archrival, Cleveland High, needed double overtime to beat Albuquerque Sandia 81-77.

The Rams will take on top-ranked Hobbs tonight in a game that is scheduled to start at 8:15 p.m. as is noted on the New Mexico Activities Association web site. The tournament program erroneously has the game starting at 4:45 p.m.

The actual 4:45 game will match the Storm against Albuquerque High. The Bulldogs edged No. 4 Carlsbad 51-50 on a basket with three seconds left.

Of the eight games played in The Pit, all but two were decided in the closing seconds. The routs were by the two No. 1 seeds.

Hobbs overwhelmed West Mesa 72-47 in Class 6A, and Las Cruces Centennial held off Bernalillo 62-46 in a game that was actually competitive into the third quarter.

The other 5A games were pure drama – Grants hitting 33 of 35 free throws to upend No. 3 Roswell 76-71; No. 4 Espanola Valley holding off upstart Artesia 52-51; and No. 2 Gallup outscoring Farmington 30-11 in the final period to sting the Scorpions 61-59.


How they got in position to win the game is a Hollywood script in itself, but the final salient detail is this:

After an improbably series of events, Rio Rancho gained possession of the ball with 17 seconds left and called timeout. The inbounds play came from midcourt, and Jeremy Snyder got and uncontested pass into Patterson in the backcourt.

The senior captain dribbled seconds off the clack and with about seven made his move. From the top of the key Patterson drove down the edge of the lane while dribbling with his left hand, stopped just to the left of the free throw line and fired a pure step-back jumper that hit nothing but net.

The clock original ran down to 1.1 seconds left before the officials correctly reset the clock at 2.5. After each team used a timeout -- Valley to diagram a play, Rio Rancho to set a defense --the Vikings used two passes to get the ball into the hands of the pass into Mateo Keyohara. His shot at the buzzer had the distance but was about three feet wide left, setting of a celebration by the Rams that capped a day filled with end-game celebrations.

For almost a quarter, it looked like Rio Rancho would have to wake up first before it could even think about going home with a dream victory and celebration.

The Rams got off to a horrible start, falling behind by 13 points out of the chute with Zach Garretson doing all of the scoring.  Valley opened up a 17-4 lead, with Garretson scoring one basket and single free throws on separate possessions in the first six minutes.

Rio Rancho finally appeared to be getting over it nerves of appearing in The Pit late in the first quarter. The Rams used three defensive stops, including a Garretson blocked shot that triggered a breakaway layup by Patterson and left the score 17-6 at the end of the period.
Rio Rancho finally warmed up in the second quarter, somewhat. The Rams pulled within four points at 21-17 midway through the quarter after a 13-4 streak of its own.
But it seemed for a while the Rams were having to spend so much energy to come back that they weren’t going to have enough to complete the task. Despite shooting only 27 percent, Rio Rancho trailed just 29-22 at intermission.

Part of the reason was Patterson, who led the Rams with eight points but did it on an inefficient 3 of 16 from the field.

Trailing by six in the third quarter, Snyder hit a jumper and Garretson made two free throws to bring the Rams within 38-36. The margin was three entering the final period at 43-40.

It was still at three-point margin when Rio Rancho sophomore Juan Hurt made a steal in the backcourt and fed Patterson, who sank a three-pointer to tie the game the first time at 47-47. After an exchange of turnovers, Carlos Sanchez hit his only three-pointer of the game to give the Rams their first lead at 50-47.

Valley's Ose Idiaka made one of two free throws on the ensuing a possession, and Rio Rancho called time out. With both the fans and players seemingly emotionally exhausted, and having both the ball and the lead, the Rams went into a brief spread offense.

But that strategy was short-lived when Rio Rancho one-on-one drive to the basked was blocked by Telon Salles, which led to a nice back-door basket that tied the game again at 50-50.

Having caught a second wind, Valley pulled ahead by three points twice, the last time at 57-54. Noah Santistevan drilled a cold-hearted three to put Valley up by three, and after a Rio Rancho missed he was fouled by Patterson. His two free throws put the Vikings ahead 55-52.

Garretson came back with a basket, though he was unable to convert an and-one free throw that would have tied the game yet again. That left the Vikings clinging to a 55-54 lead

After Patterson was called for an offensive foul, his fourth, Vallley worked the ball into Okeyku, who was fouled by Garretson -- his fourth. He too made both free throws, giving Valley a 57-54 advantage.
Having struggled with his shot most of the night, Patterson still found the confidence to hit a straight-on three pointer to tie the game once again at 57-57. The Rams' press, which had often been vulnerable, forced a Valley turnover, but Patterson's next three pointer was short of the rim.

Valley's Salles grabbed the rebound, but before the Vikings could time out to set up a final play Salles threw the ball out of bounds attempting to force a fast break that could have given Valley the lead. Rio Rancho then called time out, setting up Patterson's final heroic shot.


Ryan Jones scored 24 points, Marcus Williams 20 and Keyshawn Tinndal 9 to overcome a heroic performance from Sandia’s Sam Crews. The Matador guard had 31 points, including six three-pointers, to fuel a furious Sandia comeback that forced Cleveland to make two comebacks in order to survive and advance.

The Storm trailed by seven points with two minutes left in regulation and five points in the closing two minutes of the first overtime but rallied each time to force more time.
It was a game where everybody who played for Cleveland did something heroic at some point. Andrew Garcia, Ryn Patrrick and Justin Davis each contributed a three-pointer; Josiah Mahbout, Gabe Ortega Michael Araujo, Adam Cook and Henry Hattis held their own against the taller Matador interior players; Tindal had seven rebounds and Marcus Gibson, Williams and Jones grabbed six each;

When Williams scored the first six points of the second half, the Storm built a 33-20 lead and seemed to be in control. Cleveland stretched the lead to 40-26 with 3:30 left in the quarter when Keyshawn Tindal rebounded a Jones miss and scored.

That’s when Crews and Bobby Tapia began a three-point barrage that enabled the Matadors to catch up and finally pass Cleveland. Sandia went on a  12-6 run to cut the margin to 46-38 after three quarters, and kept it going to start the final period.

Sandia continued to gain momentum, and when Crews sank two free throws with 5:35 left in the game the Matadors reclaimed the lead, 50-49. The margin grew to 60-53 (making the Sandia run 34-13) before Cleveland began its first improbable comeback.

The rally began when Adam Cook pounded the ball inside for his only basket of the game. Williams made two free throws to cut the margin to three points, but Sandia came back with two free throws of its own to push the lead back to five.

Tindal hit a short baseline jumper to trim the margin to 62-59, but Sandia’s George Ryan made 1-of-2 on the next Matador possession to make the margin four points.

Justin Davis sank a three-pointer to cut the Cleveland deficit to one point with 37.5 seconds left, and the Storm called timeout. Cook fouled Ryan underneath, and Ryan’s first free throw hit the front of the rim before bouncing in. He swished the second with 34 seconds left, leaving the Storm down three points once again.

Sandia came with full-court pressure, which the Storm worked through to find reserve Andrew Garcia in the corner. The lefthander’s contested three-pointer was true, and Cleveland had come all the way back.

Sandia regained the lead with 20.3 seconds left when Crews rattled in a free throw and hit nothing but net on his second after a foul by Cook. But Jones forced another tie by driving coast to coast to score.

Sandia had a chance to win it, but a missed shot went out of bounds, giving Cleveland possession with 2.7 seconds left. Tindal tried to get the ball into Jones but the Matadors had him well-guarded; the ball went into Williams instead and the lefthander caught the ball when he was off balance and his desperation heave from backcourt came up well short.

That was just the beginning of the drama.
Sandia scored the first five points of the first extra period, but in the process Crews and Wroten both fouled out. Cleveland still trail 72-67 with 1:28 when Jones drove to the basket, scored and was fouled by Marlan Cunningham. His converted free throw cut the margin to 72-70.

After a Sandia turnover and Cleveland missed shot, Williams grabbed the rebound, was fouled and made one of two free throws to cut the margin to 72-71.

Just like several players in the game, Sandia’s Eric Sandlin went from near goat to near hero and back again in the subsequent sequence. Forced into the game when Crews fouled out, Sandlin took the outlet pass after Williams’ miss, drove down the right side of the lane and appeared to have an open man under the basket. His pass went was knocked away and recovered by Tindal, who started a Cleveland break in the other direction by feeding the ball to jones..

But Sandlin, forced into the game when Sandia got into foul trouble, raced back and picked knocked the ball away from Cleveland’s veteran guard. He was immediately fouled, but could make only one of two foul shots.

Several players hit the floor scrambling for a rebound, but Williams came up with the loose ball during a mad scramble. After missing three free throws earlier in the quarter, the 6-2 junior calmly sank both his charity shots with 10.5 seconds left.

This time Tapia had the desperation heave, and it too came up well short.

Sandia again got the early lead in second overtime when Ryan scored underneath.
But it was the only lead the Matadors would get.

Williams converted a three-point play with 2:23 remaining to give the Storm the lead for the first time since midway through the fourth quarter. His basket and free throw gave Cleveland a 76-75 advantage.

But again the Storm appeared headed for trouble when Tapia scored from the baseline and Cleveland turned the ball over on its next possession with 1:52 left. But the Matadors were whistled for an offensive foul on the ensuing possession.

Again Jones proved clutch, driving to the basket and drawing a foul. His two free throws gave Cleveland the lead for good at 78-77.

It’s not to say the Matadors didn’t have more chances. Tapia, now shouldering the load after four Matador starters had fouled out, drove to the basket and was fouled by Davis. But Tapia missed his two free throws and the Sttorm took possession with 1:08 left.

Cleveland had a good opportunity off of the fast break, but Patrick missed an open jumper from the top of the key. He rebounded his own miss, however, allowing the Storm to run off more time before the ball came back to him and he was fouled with 48.6 seconds left.

Patrick made both free throws with 48.6 seconds remaining to put Cleveland up three points. Tapia’s next shot was long, and Ortega was fouled after grabbing the crucial rebound.

But Ortega’s first free throw bounced away and his second rimmed out, giving the Matadors yet another chance to tie the game. Ander Alonso-Bastoda and Sandlin 24 and passed the ball back and forth on the perimeter, and when Sandlin shot an airball and Cleveland secured the rebound the game was finally in hand.

Alonso-Bastida fouled Davis with 3.3 seconds left, and he made the first shot to secure the victory. He missed the second, but Tapia’s desperation heave  at the buzzer fell harmlessly short.

George Ryan 2-3 5-6 9; Eric Sedillo 1-4 2-4 5; Trevor Waring 0-0 0-0 0; Sam Crews 7-15 11-15 31; Bobby Tapia 5-13 2-4 16; Ander Alonso-Bastida 2-2 0-0 6; Dylan Abbott 2-5 0-0 4; Marrlan Cunningham 0-0 0-0 0; Caleb Wroten 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 21-47 22-33 77.

Keyshawn Tindal 4-12 0-2 9; Marcus Gibson 2-3 1-2 5; Ryan Jones 8-17 5-8 24; Marcus Williams 6-10 8-11 20; Gabe Ortega 0-1 0-2 0; Andrew Garcia 1-5 4-4 7; Ryan Patrick 2-5 2-2 7; Josiah Mahboug 1-3 0-0 2; Michael Araujo 0-0 0-0 0; Adan Cook 1-2 0-0 0; Henry Hattis 0-1 1-5 1. Totals 26-63 32-28 81.


Three-point goals: SHS 13-25 (Sandlin 1-3, Crews 6-8, Tapia 4-10, Alonso-Bastida 2-2; Abbott 2-2); CHS 7-20 (Tindal 1-2, Jones 3-8, Garcia 1-3, Patrick 1-2, Mahboub 0-2, Davis 1-3). Total fouls: SHS 31, CHS 25. Fouled out: Crews, Abbott, Cunningham, Wroten, Mahboub. Rebounds: SHS 43 (Wroten 12, Abbott 8, Crews 6); CHS 25 (Tindal 7, Gibson 6, Williams 6, Jones 6). Assists: SHS 8 (Tapia 2), CHS 6 (Jones 3, Mahboub 2). First half shooting SHS 32 percent (6-19), 52 percent (11-21) second half, 57 percent (4-7) overtimes; 45 percent (21-47) game; CHS 33 percent (9-27) first half, 54 percent (15-28) second half, 25 percent (2-8) overtimes, 41 percent (26-63) games. Three-point shooting percentages: SHS 43 percent (3-7) first half, 64 percent (9-14) second half, 25 percent (1-4) overtimes, 52 percent (13-25) game; CHS 25 percent (2-8) first half, 63 percent (5-8) second half, 0 percent (0-4) overtimes; 35 percent (7-20) game. FT percentages: SHS 63 percent (5-8) first half, 76 percent (16-21) second half, 25 percent (1-4) overtime, 67 percent (22-33) game; CHS 78 percent (7-9) first half, 38 percent (5-13) second half, 63 percent (10-16) overtimes, 58 percent (22-38) games. Officials: Drew Hatley, Dan Lewis, Darren Jones.





NO ROOM: Bernalillo guard Diego Aragon (23) looks to penetrate Centennial's defense or pass to teammate Diego Sedillo (25). Joe Sattenfield (22) and Alex Baez (34) were among he defenders for the top-ranked Hawks.

Posted Wednesday, March 11, 2015

ON GUARD: Cleveland High's Keshawn Tndal (3) excels on the basketball court and in the classroom, too.


Eight CHS players make all-district academic team


Bill Gates and basketball aren’t usually mentioned in the same sentence. But Cleveland High doesn’t have your typical team, either.

Eight of the 14 Storm players earned all-District 1-6A academic honors that were announced last week. In order to make the all-district academic team, a player must have a grade point average of 3.5 (out of 4) or above.

Even more amazing, Coach Brian Smith said the lowest GPA on the team during the first semester was 3.0.

Among the academic leaders is senior guard Keshawn Tindal, who not only scored a game-high 19-points in Cleveland’s 60-45 victory over at Atrisco Heritage on Saturday but is still in the running for a Bill Gates college scholarship. Officially called the Gates Millennium Scholarship, the award covers tuition, books and living expenses for any college in the United States.

According to the scholarship web site, 1,000 students will be selected and will be notified later this month if their application is successful. That’s when Tindal will find out of he’ll be able to live the next part of his dream – to attend MIT and study “science or technology – physics, nuclear engineering or computer programming.”

Normally a Gates Scholar is nominated by a teacher or other adult, but Tindal applied on his own initiative at the suggestion of his mother, who works in a pharmacy and supports two other younger children.

“My mom found it and said I should apply for it,” he said. “She always pushes me to do my best.”

The team’s success off the court is not by accident. It’s rooted in an experience the coach had when he played in high school.

“In my junior year I got a D on a test in history and my parents held me out of the next game,” Smith said. “The coach called my parents and said, ‘He’s eligible to play,’ but my dad said, ‘He may be eligible at school, but he’s not eligible in my house.’

“I remember sitting at home, not being able to go to the game. So I had to call my buddies after the game to found out how we did and what was it like.

“It killed me, not being there. I never got a D or an F after that. I learned that lesson, and I passed it on to these guys.”

Smith said his team’s academic success is about setting clear expectations, both on and off the court.

“The thing we teach in our program is you’re a student athlete, and student comes first in that phrase for a reason,” he said. “You have to take care of business in the classroom. You can ask any of our players -- we stress being a student.”

And that “stress” can be stressful.

“We have weekly grade checks,” Smith said. “If you get a zero on an assignment, my philosophy is you run a sprint for every point that assignment was worth. Because if you got a zero, then it means you’re just not doing it. You’re not taking care of the little things.

“They have expectations for grade checks. If we have kids with D’s and F’s, you run for it. Our kids don’t get kids in-school suspension because they know we’ll punish them.”

Said Tindal: “Everybody sort of worries about their grades. Everybody’s like ‘get your grades up, get your grades up.

“The coaches always make sure we’re on it.”

Setting high expectations off the court had led to success on it. The Storm, 26-2, plays Albuquerque Sandia at 1:15 p.m. in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.

“To me, if you’re taking care of that stuff off the court it’s going to translate on the court,” Smith said. “And I think that discipline you show off the court will also translate.”

Tindal sees it too – and a lot more.

“We have a good cohesiveness,” he said. “I think we can understand certain situation and see things I suppose that other players can’t.”

Smith also sees it from a big-picture view.

“I think that’s important because yeah we’re teaching them basketball but we’re also teaching them so much more than basketball – respect, discipline, how to take care of things, how to be responsible – things they’ll use the rest of their lives. We just use basketball as the avenue to do that.

“That’s been my expectation as long as I’ve coached.”

Given a chance to tout his big game or academic achievements in an interview after Monday’s practice, the 6-foot-1 guard praised his teammates and provided mostly one-sentence, polite answers in a quiet voice.

So it’s largely up to his coach to provide insight to Tindall’s shall personality.

“He’s a very witty kid. He’s a very knowledgeable kid,” Smith said. “He’s probably smarter than me, and I’m okay in saying that. I’ve never had a kid who has had a dream of going to MIT or a big school for academic reasons.

“I joke with him that he’s going to make more money than I ever will, maybe in a year, so he needs to make sure to use that intelligence.

“He’s disciplined. He’s smart. He sees things that a lot of people don’t see. He thinks outside the box, and he’s got a humor that’s not typical.”

From the “not typical” department: Tindal challenges Smith with a “fact of the day” almost every day that has driven the coach to find some of his own to keep up. On Monday, it was that jellyfish are immortal and can live forever unless something kills them.

Tindal’s interest in marine life doesn’t stop there. The team takes delight in teasing Tindal about his light beige print shirt that features fly fishing lures.

Tindal says he simply likes to fish and find it relaxing; Smith recalls Tindal coming to practice and talking about “fishing for confidence” and “saying ‘I’m just a fly guy, get it?’

Said Smith: “Keyshawn is definitely a unique person without a lot unique personality.”

That personality and intelligence is sometimes not understood by some who are used to the stereotype of the dumb jock. But Tindal comes across with a quiet confidence that won’t let others’ opinions bother him.

“It’s a judge a book by its cover kind of thing until they find out about me,” he said.

People are starting to find out about Tindal on the court, too, especially after his last two performances. Not only did he lead the Storm in scoring against Atrisco, he had three three-pointers in the first quarter of the district championship game against Rio Rancho to set the tone in the Storm’s close victory.

And that comes as no surprise to Smith, who appreciates Tindal’s game, calling him a “quiet assassin.”

“If you ever notice Keyshawn playing, if he smiles he’s going to do well,” Smith said. “He had this smile on his face (In the district final) where he was really enjoying everything. Sometimes he doesn’t always have that, but when he does you know it is going to be a good result. He came out relaxed and focused, and just wanted to have some fun.

“He has the ability to score a lot, but the key to his game is he has a lot of quickness gives him a great ability to defend. He not only has the heart to do it but he can out-think his opponent. Sometimes he knows where the guy is going before they do.”

Sometimes Tindal’s intelligence actually is a problem on the court.

“I used to joke with him that he overthinks everything,” Smith said. “If he misses a free throw it’s like he’s standing there thinking about the trajectory of the ball and the angle it’s going on.”

“I’ll be playing and as soon as I make a misstate I start thinking that I should have done this or I should have done that,” Tindal said. “Sometimes it’s like I can’t keep up with my brain because it’s racing with thoughts. I do have that problem.”

As in the third quarter of the district title game when, after his hot start, he air-balled a free throw in the third quarter. That earned him some running in practice, one of the few time’s he’s faced extra running as punishment – and never about academics.

“Since we’ve been here we’ve never had to worry about his grades at all,” Smith said. “But I can’t take any credit for that. His family has pushed that from the start.”

Back on the court, Tindal is looking forward to the matchup with the Matadors.
“I’m pretty confident in myself right now,” he said. “I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to help us win.

“I’m excited to play obviously, to do what we’ve got to do and play how we know how.”

Ironically, Tindall’s backcourt mate, Ryan Jones, has accepted a basketball scholarship at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, only a few miles outside of Boston. If Tindal does get to go to MIT, they may still be separated by a few miles.

But they never really talked about it before discovering the others’ plans.
“We’ve been close since the seventh grade, but we never really talked about college,” Tindal said.

Then, displaying that quiet sense of humor, he said, “Maybe just live with him – I wish. He did say if we go to the same city maybe I could help him with some of his school work.”

Here is the District 1-6A all-academic team, in alphabetical order, (must have a grade point average of at least 3.5):

CLEVELAND (8): Michael Aroujo, Justin Davis Marcus Gibson, Henry Hattis, Josiah Mahboub, Gabe Ortiz, Ryan Patrick, Keshawn Tindall,

RIO RANCHO (3): Anthony Armijo, Brady Patterson, Clay Patterson

VOLCANO VISTA (5): Jake Chavez, Caleb Dixon, Jackson Schaap, Abram Schaap, Kody Smith

Published Tuesday, March 10, 2015
New RRPS board members sworn in

Something old, something new.

The two newest members of the Rio Rancho School Board were sworn in Monday as the room the board itself has been meeting in for 20 years played host to its final meeting.

Ramon Montano (District 2) and Ryan Parra (District 4) were unopposed in the Feb. 3 election.

Incumbent board president Carl Harper originally filed to seek reelection in District 2 but withdrew before the Dec. 30,, 2014 deadline. 

Parra replaces Divyesh Patel, who chose not to seek a third term.
Montano received 20 votes; Parra 32.

Montano is not a newcomer to school boards or politics. He finished second in a three-man race in 2014 in an effort to unseat Municipal Judge G. Robert Cook in Rio Rancho.

Montano, 40, has previously served on the Las Vegas (N.M.) school board and is a former president of the New Mexico School Board Association.

Parra, 24, is the youngest member ever elected to the Rio Rancho board and is the first to graduate from the school system. Parra graduated from Rio Rancho High in 2008.

His only other political experience is co-founder of the Rio Rancho Alliance.

After each election new officers and committee members are elected. Don Schlichte, who has two years left on his fourth four-year term, was elected board president for the fourth time. He has already announced he will not run again, meaning when his term expires in 2017 he will have served as president for half of his 16 years on the board.

Schlichte represents District 1.

Catherine Cullen (District 5) was reelected vice president and Martha Janssen (District 3) as secretary.

All three seats held by officers will be up for election in 2017. Janssen was not at the meeting but connected by speakerphone after the officers were selected, all unanimously, in time for the selection of two committees required by state law.

Janssen and Schlichte will continue to serve on the Audit Committee; Cullen and Parra will sit on the Finance Committee.

As the district continues to struggle with money, the Finance Committee has become more of a committee-of-the-whole with all board members participating. But the district is required to designate two members by law.

The board will meet as the Finance Committee in dvance of the next board meeting on March 23 in the first of a series of budget workshops. The workshop and the board meeting will be conducted in the district’s new board meeting, just north of the current administration building, which is finally ready after months of delays due to contractor issues.

The 21-year-old district originally met in a condemned building that was loaned to them by the City of Rio Rancho. That building, which most remember as a small retail office area that had a dental office at one point, was torn down to make room for the widening of Unser Boulevard.

Superintendent Sue Cleveland reminisced that district officials were literally “moving our things out the front door while they were tearing things down in the back.”

Cleveland also paid tribute to Jim Miller, who served as the districts interim superintendent before she was hired. Miller died Feb. 24 at age 88.

In addition to organizational activities, the board:

*Nominated Capt. Bruce Gustin, USN (ret.), for the state’s Student Achievement Award. Gustin is now a volunteer who runs the Achievement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program at Eagle Ridge Middle School.

* Approved a change order for roofing and leak repair at Rio Rancho  Middle School.

* Approved the award of bid to three companies to provide on-call roofing repairs for projects less than $100,000.

*Allowed the district to issue a request for proposal seeking a bid for energy conservation services. 

Posted Sunday, March 8, 2015

FRIENDLY RIALS: Ryan Jones (left) and Brady Patterson pose with Larry Chavez, chair of District 1-6A, after being presented awards as players of the year after competing against each other (below) in the district title game.

Friendly rivals share district MVP honors


Brady Patterson and Ryan Jones. Or is it Ryan Jones and Brady Patterson?

Two of the best high school basketball players in Rio Rancho history will be forever linked, like Butch and Sundance or salt and pepper -- even when they are separated.

The two guards were on different courts on Saturday, taking the first step in what they hope will be one final meeting in the Class 6A championship game this Saturday night.

Jones scored 16 points, including seven in the decisive fourth quarter, as his Cleveland Storm team eliminated Atrisco Heritage 60-45. Patterson had a team-high 19 points as the Rio Rancho Rams ousted stubborn Gadsden 66-58.

It was no surprise that Patterson and Jones were named co-players of the year in District 1-6A earlier in the week. It was actually deja vu all over again -- they shared the same award last year as juniors.

“They’re both great players and they’re both going to be missed from both programs,” Rio Rancho head coach Wally Salta said. “You just hope the other players that are playing now appreciate them. These kinds of players don’t come around too often, and it sets the bar for the players that are coming up.”

Said Cleveland coach Brian Smith: “There’re a lot of good players in our district, but Ryan and Brady stood out, obviously. The fact they both won it two years in a row means they’re forever linked to each other.

“Recently the state had Bryce Alford (at La Cueva) and Cullen Neal (Eldorado) battling each other but being good friends,” Smith said. “Ryan and Brady are the same way. They played AAU ball together in the past, they’ve played on other teams together, and now they’re competing against together.

“The thing that is cool from a sportsmanship side of it is if you’ve ever watched before and after a game they embrace each other and show mutual respect for each other. They want to see them be successful but there is always that competitive fire between the two of them.”

According to team statistics, Patterson was averaging 21.3 points per game entering the state tournament. He scored 532 points in 25 games, starting his season late because he was a member of the Rio Rancho state champion football team that played into early December.

Other numbers: Patterson had 160 assists (6.4 per game), 68 rebounds (2.7 per game) and 63 steals (2.5 per game). He shot 48.3 percent from the field on two-point shots (114 of 236) 38.7 from three-point range (55 of142) and 77.9 percent from the free throw line (141 of 181). 

And perhaps most importantly, even though he had to get into basketball shape while playing games, the 6-2 Patterson played 693 minutes (27.7 per game in a 32 minute game, not counting overtimes.) In the three games district tournament games, Patterson played 95 out of a possible 96 minutes.

“That says a lot about a player like Brady, that he came out only one time in three games,” Salata said. “We need him in there as much as possible because it takes the pressure off other players.

“This year we are able to play with two or even three point guards at times so he doesn’t have to handle the basketball every single time. He is able to play on the wing or in the post, and that’s helped his game a little bit.

“He’s tired, but not as tired as the same time last year because he doesn’t have to make something happen with the ball every single time. And when we press he’s on the back side.

“He’s playing more positons this year and I think it has helped his overall game.”

Jones, meanwhile, averaged 21.5 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals during the regular season and district tournament. He was also shooting 82.5 percent from the free throw line.

The 6-2 senior was also shooting better than 50 percent from the field on two-point shots and just under 40 percent on three-point attempts.

The ability to play many minutes is also something that Jones does.

“I’m proud of Ryan because he got a lot better from last year,” Smith said. “He got stronger. He added more to his game. He learned how to learn with box-and-ones and other different kinds of defenses, and I think he got tougher.

“The main thing Ryan did for us is he made everybody else around him better. People say the way he works in practice and outside of practice, all the time he puts in, so they want to raise their game just to try to keep up with him.

“He’s gotten in better condition so he can last longer in games. I don’t think he’s fouled out of a game.”

The numbers tell only part of the story. Talk to the coaches and both players have many of the same attributes that make them great.

*Finding teammates/ assists / trust

Salata on Patterson: “He has a supporting cast now where he doesn’t have to try to take every shot. He can get other player involved and he trusts they’re going to make shots. That was evident the other night against Volcano Vista when they were doubling him and he found Carlos Sanchez for some open three’s. It opens up a lot when we get another player scoring.

“It started this summer. We went to five camps. What’s you’re seeing now didn’t just start. Nobody knows about summer.

“He doesn’t have to score 30 every night for us to be successful. He’s still a facilitator. He averages a little less than seven assists a game.

“He makes his teammates better. He has a great sense of the game.”

Smith on Jones:  “He’s a very underrated passer. He just doesn’t get a lot of accolades for that. He tries to find open teammates. He’s a very smart player. “

*Work ethic/improvement

*Salata on Patterson: “Brady has a great work ethic on and off the court. He will spend extra time after practice working on his shooting.”

Smith on Jones: “He’s always in the gym. I don’t know how many people I’ve had tell me, ‘I was down at River Point this weekend and I saw Ryan Jones in there shooting.’

“He’s added some dimensions to his game. He’s got really good body control. He can start on the drive, stop and step back on a dime. He’s added that dimension to his game.

“Last year he wasn’t as able to get around people as good as he is this year. That’s a lot of him being in the weight room. I know he’s a skinny guy, but a lot of that is him developing that part of his game as well.”


Salata on Patterson: “People don’t talk about his defense. We played box-and-one on Ryan and he was on him most of the time. He averages a little over two steals a game. Being the wide receiver he was in football he is able to read coverages.

Smith on Jones: “Ryan is really good on defense, but because he does so many other things well, he is underrated as a defensive player.

“His defensively has definitely been better this year, not only because his strength (has improved) but because he is not so offensive-minded. He knows that our whole philosophy is D 2 0, that defense leads to offense.

“One thing he does real well for us is rebound. And because he rebounds so well, he doesn’t necessarily have to get an outlet pass. He can just take it and go.

“He is a very smart defender. If he gets a couple of fouls he knows how to play around that.

“He has greatly improved this year on defense, but he knows for next year he has to get even better at that. That’s a challenge he’s ready for.”

*After high school

Patterson has verbally committed to attend Eastern New Mexico University in Portales.

Jones plans to attend the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, a Division I school just outside of Boston.

To most, though, it is the players’ offensive skills that stand out.  In their three games against each other this year, Patterson had a school-record 46, 24 and 26 points; Jones scored 21, 23 and 18. Patterson had more points but Jones has bragging rights, as Cleveland won two of the three games.

In the second game at Rio Rancho, the two players both were in the zone for a stretch that fans will talk about for years. In the third quarter Patterson hit three three-pointers and Jones two, each responding to the others’ shots. Jones had 13 points in the quarter and Paterson 11 in a game Cleveland went on to win 67-62.

“It was an ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ kind of thing,” Smith said. “It’s nice to see that, and it’s nice to see that sportsmanship on display. They don’t hate each other or anything like that, and it’s nice to see that in high school basketball.”

Because of the result, Salata got a little less enjoyment from the exhibition.

“I appreciated it more the next day when I was sitting down and watching tape,” he said. “In the heat of the battle I’m not so much into it like a fan. My goal was how to eliminate Ryan’s touches.

“As a fan watching it the next day, it was like, ‘Wow.’ It wasn’t like the first time. Last year he had three games where he scored at least 30 on us.

 “When Ryan started going off in the third quarter – when he you could just see it. Brady and Ryan are two of the better players in the state when it comes to transition because they’ve got great ball-handling skills and they are so quick on their feet that one guy can’t stop them. In that particular game even when Brady was guarding him, Ryan was still able to get around him, and that doesn’t happen too often.”

Naturally, the coaches are biased toward their own players. But they also have an appreciation for their opponent.

“Brady is a great kid,” Smith said. “I am happy we don’t have to play him anymore. If we see him again it would be state championship.

“I wish him the best of luck. I’ve always respected him and his family. I really respect his game and him as a person. I’ve seen how he interacts with other people off the court. He’s a quality kid.”

Salata has great respect for Jones as well.

“The thing about Ryan is he has gotten better each year. His biggest thing is his work ethic,” Salata said. “Even when he was over here as a freshman he would always spend extra time at the gym working on his game.

“That’s one area he has excelled in – I know he’s probably done it over there at Cleveland, and that’s why he’s co-player of the year with Brady. He put the time in, just like Brady did, and he was rewarded for it.

“You can’t stop him totally, especially in transition, because it’s so hard to guard somebody one-on-one. He still gets his points, especially at the free throw line.”

Does either coach ever wonder what would happen if he had both star players on the same team?

“That would be a coach’s dream right there, to have both of them playing for you,” Smith said. “If you had Brady and Ryan and Marcus Williams some of those guys all together, it would be like this year’s Kentucky for high school. There would be so much talent.

“We’d have to learn how to divvy up the ball, though. To be honest, it takes a lot to coach that. It’s a lot to keep people happy and do what’s best for the team when you have that much talent.
“That would be a special team. It would be interesting to have that, but I’m happy with the team I have, obviously.”

So is Salata, who simply said, “It’s nice to dream, but my dream right now is the team that I have in the position that we’re at.”

The bottom line, to paraphrase an old song, neither coach “ain’t to proud to brag” on his star player.
“In my opinion, Brady is the most complete high school basketball player this season,” Salata said. “All year he has had to fight off double teams on a nightly basis. He puts up great statistical numbers and he is very coachable. He’s multi-dimensional. He’s a complete player.”

Smith said, “Ryan getting a scholarship to a Division I school is a result to all of the work he has put in. He deserves to be recognized for everything he’s doing.”

The exploits of Patterson and Jones overshadowed the outstanding play by many other players. A total of 21 players were recognized in voting by coaches.

Williams of Cleveland was third in voting behind Patterson and Jones. Malik Liddell of Cibola and Lorenzo Vigil of Volcano Vista rounded out the Top 5.

The second team consisted of Zach Garretson of Rio Rancho, Vito Coppala (Santa Fe), David Cormier (Volcano Vista), Caleb Dixon (Volcano Vista) and Carlos Sanchez (Rio Rancho).

Six players made the third team because of a tie in voting. They were Josiah Mahboub (Cleveland), Jacob McNeely (Volcano Vista), Zach Baca (Cibola), Hayden Hargrove (Santa Fe), Cameron Dixon (Cibola) and Isaac Brito (Cibola).

Honorable mention players are Juan Hurt (Rio Rancho), Korvin Mueller (Santa Fe), Ryan Patrick (Cleveland), Isaac Maldonado (Cibola) and Jose Vigil (Volcano Vista).

Lorenzo Vigil was selected defensive player of the year. Coaches decided not to name a coach of the year.

Posted Saturday, March 7, 2015

STEAL AND A SLAM: Cleveland's Marcus Williams completes a slam dunk in the second quarter Saturday night after picking off an errant Atrisco pass in the second quarter. Jaguars Deshawn Lucero (2) and Devan Peace (45) and Cleveland's Ryan Jones look on.


APPLYING PRESSURE: Rio Rancho's Jeremy Snyder (24) guards Gadsden's Tommy Cano (1) as part of the Rams' full-court defense.
Cleveland, Rio Rancho
are headed to The Pit

Storm to take on Matadors;Rams get Valley

Both Cleveland and Rio Rancho got needed scoring from unlikely sources on Saturday to advance to the quarterfinals of the state high school basketball tournament.

Keyshawn Tindal scored a game-high 19 points as Cleveland overcame Atrisco Heritage’s slow-down game to pull away late for a 60-45 victory.

Zach Garretson, meanwhile, contributed 17 points as Rio Rancho held off stubborn Gadsden 66-58.

Both Cleveland and Rio Rancho will play Wednesday at University Arena in Albuquerque.

Cleveland, seeded second in the tournament, will take on No. 10 Sandia, which pulled the only upset in the Class 6A bracket. The Matadors won at No. 7 Volcano Vista 36-30, sparing the Storm another game against their District 1-6A rival.

Cleveland and Sandia will play at 1:15 p.m.

Rio Rancho, the No. 4 seed, has the 8:15 p.m. feature game against Valley. The No. 5 Vikings held off No. 12 Onate 65-61 to earn their appearance in The Pit.

Also in the Rio Rancho side of the bracket, No. 1 Hobbs whipped No. 16 La Cueva 77-55. The Eagles will be in the 9:45 a.m. game against No. 8 West Mesa, which held off No. 9 Las Cruces 52-49.

In Cleveland’s half of the bracket, No. 3 Carlsbad dominated No. 14 Rio Grande 67-43. The Cevemen will play No. 6 Albuquerque High, which beat No. 11 Cibola 44-34. That game will be at 4:45 p.m.

Wednesday’s winners on the Cleveland side of the bracket will play at 4:45 p.m. on Thursday. The winners on the Rio Rancho side play at 8:15 p.m. Thursday.

The Class 6A championship game is set for 8 p.m. Saturday.

Two other Sandoval County schools had mixed results in their opening round games.

Bernalillo, seeded ninth in Class 5A, won at Albuquerque Del Norte 43-38. The Spartans, 19-11, take on top-seeded Las Cruces Centennial at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in The Pit.

Bernalillo finished third in District 2-5A behind Espanola Valley and Del Norte.

Centennial got a scare from Santa Fe Capital before advancing 46-43. The Hawks were 25-4 this year and come into the tournament on a 13-game winning streak.

The Hawks’ four losses this year were at Class 5A Roswell, at home to Hobbs and in back to back road games at West Mesa and Albuquerque High. All four teams made the state tournament and won their opening round games.

Centennial got revenge for two of their losses, winning at Hobbs and at home to Roswell. They are also only one of two teams to beat Cleveland this season.

In Class 3A, Cuba had no luck when it ran into another top-ranked team from Las Cruces on Saturday. The Rams were routed by Mesilla Valley Christian 82-42 and finished the season with a 13-12 record.


The visiting Jaguars trailed by just six points with 6:45 left in the game, but Cleveland pulled away with a 17-8 run to close the game.

“My teammates did a good job of getting me the ball when I got open,” Tindal said. “It’s all on them, not me.”

Atrisco started its season 10-5 but was just 3-8 down the stretch after losing its starting point guard to injury. In an attempt to stay with the Storm the Jaguars played a methodical game, sometimes holding the ball for a minute or more

As a result of fewer opportunities, Cleveland seemed to be forcing its shots.
“At times we were a little frustrated when they slowed it down,” Tindal said. “But once we took our time on offense it really came to us and we did what we had to do.”
Cleveland head coach Brian Smith said, “We’ve had to play that way all year, where we either have to go fast or slow. These guys adapt well to that.”
Another issue was Jaguar Deven Peace. The 6-5 senior was a force inside butt picked up his third foul early in the second half and was in and out of the game after that. He eventually fouled out with 3:05 left with 15 points.

“We told the guys you’ve to attack,” Smith said. “When a guy gets four fouls like that you’ve got to go at him.

“I got a little frustrated with our guys because they were settling for jump shots instead of attacking. When we finally started attacking good things happened.”

To Atrisco head coach Adrian Ortega, who beat Cleveland in the quarterfinals last year en route to the championship game, Peace’s absence meant something else.

“Rebounding got us,” he said. “It was down to six points with a few minutes left, but we turned it over and gave up a few opportunities.

“We’re not a very deep team but some of the guys that came in did their job and gave us a chance. That’s all we could ask for.”

Marcus Williams and Ryan Jones scored 16 points each for the Storm, 26-2. DeShawn Lucero and Johnny Rodriguez scored 10 apiece for Atrisco, which finished the season 13-13.

But it was Tindal who made the difference.

“He just played his butt off,” Smith said. “He’s capable of doing that, and what a good time for him to have a game ike that.”

Said Ortega: “We did a good job on their two big guys (Williams and Jones), but they’re a team. They’re very hard to stop. They’ve got multiple weapons. I think they’re going to go deep in the tournament.”

Now it’s on to University Arena to play Sandia. The Matadors, 16-10, went 7-1 in winning District 2-6A and list 11 players on their roster taller than six feet tall. Three of them are 6-7 or better  including Caleb Wroten, a 6-8, 255 junior who once was in the Rio Rancho High program.

“The guys know Caleb real well,” Smith said. “Sandia is going to be a good matchup for us. They’ve got a lot of size, but we’ve got size of our own.

“Sandia does a really good job of trying to pound the ball inside with their size. They got a lot of their stuff (against Volcano Vista) on offensive rebounds. We’re going to have to stay active inside on them.”
The two teams have not faced each other this year.

“We’re excited about a chance to play them,” Smith said. “I think we’re just excited to play somebody else that isn’t in our district.

“I feel very confident in what we’re doing and how we play is going to help us out against them.

“We’re in the last week of the season now. There’s not a whole lot of tweaking you have to do, maybe a couple of things here and there. This is what we tell the boys all the time, about having faith in the system and doing what we’ve been doing. So hopefully that will continue.”

Said Tindal: “This was our first nervous kind of game. We know that we can play well in The Pit.”

DeShawn Lucero 5 0-2 10;  Andres Gurule 1 1-2 3; Nestor Melero 0 0-0 0; Diego Ortega 0 0-0 0; Marciano Gonzales 0 0-0 0; Noah Salazar 1 0-0 2; Aaron Bean 0 0-0 0; Estevan Martinez 1 2-2 5; Johnny Rodriguez 3 2-2 10; Enrique Bibian 0 0-0 0; Angel Hernandez 0 0-0 0; Jordan Arroyo 0 0-0 0; Deven Peace 5 4-6 15; Angel Ramirez 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 26 9-14 45.  
Keyshawn Tindal 6 6-9 19; Marcus Gibson 0 0-0 0; Ryan Jones 5 5-7 16; Marcus Williams 5 6-7 16; Andrew Garcia 0 0-0 0; Ryan Patrick 4  0-2 8; Josiah Mahboub  0 1-2 1; Justin Davis 0 0-0 0; Michael Aroujo 0 0-0 0; Jayden Phillips 0 0-0 0; Roope Henry 0 0-0 0; Adam Cook 0 0-0 0; Henry Hattis 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 30 28-27 60.

Atrisco Heritage … 09…..07…..17…..12 – 45
Cleveland…………...14……11…..16…..29 – 60

Three-point goals: AHHS 4 (Martinez 1, Rodriguez 2, Peach 1), CHS 2 (Tindal 1, Jones1 ). Total fouls: AHHS 16, CHS 12. Fouled out: Peach. Records: AHHS 13-13, CHS 26—2.



Just like their archrivals, it was the ability to get inside that proved to be the difference for Rio Rancho.

Brady Patterson 19 points, but more importantly repeatedly drove to the basket and dished off to Garretson for layups in the fourth quarter. Garretson had 12 points in the final period, including four free throws, as the Rams hit 12-of-14 from the line in the final period.

“When Brady penetrated and started getting inside, there was nobody that could stop  him (Garretson),” Rio Rancho head coach Wally Zalata said.  “We told Zach after the first half he’s got close to the basket, five or six feet away, they’re going to double or triple team him. In the second half we changed that up. He got to the basket and was able to get some and-ones. That was huge.

“Brady is going to get his points. Zach is one of those players. We need a second scorer, and tonight it was Zach Garretson.”

As a team the Rams were 17-of-20 from the line in the second half after going just 4-of-9 in the first half.

“Isiah Ortiz y Pino, Garretson and Carlos Sanchez made big free throws down the stretch,” Zalata said. “At halftime I told them to shoot free throws in (second half) warmups. They did, and we made the free throws when we needed them.”

Ortiz y Pino was a third double-figure scorer for the Rams with 11 points. Tommy Cano had 17 points and Cheyenne Burrientos to pace the Panthers, who finished the year 17-11.

But it wasn’t easy for Rio Rancho. After jumping out to a 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, the Rams managed just seven points in the second quarter and 12 in the third to take a slim 38-37 lead into the final period.

“We only scored seven points in the second quarter because we didn’t attack them inside, and in the third quarter we just got nothing going.” Salata said.

But it was important win for the Rams, 22-8, who advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in six years under Salata.

“I’m excited for the kids to get the opportunity to play in The Pit for,” Salata said. “They deserve it. They played hard.

“It’s a great opportunity for us, and now we’ve got a couple of days to get ready for Valley.”

Valley, 17-9, won District 5-6A after defeating Atrisco for the state championship game last year.

Tomas Cano 6 2-2 18; Dennis Smith 1 0-0 2; Victor Sanchez
4 1-2 11; Fernando Jauregui 0 0-0 0; Christopher Long 0 0-0 0; Xavier Rodriguez 2 0-0 4; Jacob Holguin 1 4-6 7; Cutberto Barraza 1 0-0 2; Chayenne Barrientos 6 0-0 14. TOTALS 21 7-10 58.

Juan Hurt  2 0-0 6;  Clay Patterson  0 0-0 0; Brady Patterson 6 5-6 19; Zach Garretson 5 7-12 19; Carlos Sanchez 2 3-3 8;   
Jeremy Snider1 2-2 4; Dakota Carrasco 0 0-0 0; Isaiah Ortiz y Pino  4 3-4 11; Chris Sisneros 0 1-2 1. TOTALS 20 21-30 66.  

Gadsden ……. 07…..15…..15…..21 – 58
Rio Rancho….19…..07…..12…..28 – 66

Three-point goals: GHS 9 (Cano 4, Sanchez 2, Holguin 1, Barrientos 2), RRHS 5 (Hurt 2, B. Patterson 2, Sanchez 1). Total fouls: GHS 26, RRHS 12. Records: GHS 17-11, RR 22-8



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