In politics and sports, polls have been known to miss the mark. Apparently not in the case of Volcano Vista (16-0), the No. 1 ranked team in the MaxPreps 5A boys’ basketball poll.
The defending champion Hawks, winners of 44 games in a row, jumped to a 13-0 lead against fifth-ranked Los Lunas and coasted to a 71-31 victory Tuesday at VVHS.
A three pointer by senior guard Geleio Griego finally put LLHS on the board, but only three Tigers scored in the first half. VVHS led 46-16 at the break.
“They’re talented, very well coached,” said Travis Julian, LLHS head coach. “They put it to us. We didn’t respond to their physicality very well.”
Most of that muscle came from inside. The Tigers didn’t have answers for 6-foot, 9-inch tall, 225 pound Sean Alter and Kenyon Aquino, who was almost as big. The two combined for 29 first-half points to put the game away.
The Hawks’ defense was equally as impressive, hounding Los Lunas into two of 26 on three-point attempts.
“You try to take away the bigs and they hit the three,” Julian said. “You try to take away the three and they hurt you in the paint.”
The best stretch for the Tigers came in the fourth quarter when Logan Tafoya converted a three-point play, and Ezra Guest made two buckets in a row. Guest, who has signed to play at Colorado Christian University, was the top scorer for LLHS with 10 points.
“We just have to get back to practice and work hard,” Guest said. “We need to just come together and realize they humbled us tonight. You need to learn from this.”
Julian believes the loss is only a temporary setback.
“I think it’s going to help us actually,” he said. “I think it’s going to set a tone for how we need to move forward.”
Los Lunas (12-3) hosts Hobbs on Friday in the final tune-up before district play.
Also Tuesday, Valencia (6-11) lost at Santa Fe Capital, 56-49, in boys basketball, while the VHS (11-4) girls lost at Valley, 45-41.
Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.