Colby Wade of Atrisco Heritage blocks a shot from La Cuevas Exodus Ayers during Tuesday’s game at Atrisco Heritage. La Cueva won the season opener 57-43.
Adolphe Pierre-Louis / Diary
LA CUEVA 57, ATRISCO HERITAGE 43 LA CUEVA (1-0): Exodus Ayers 12, Ced Yates 8, Josiah Guliford 14, Ben Wilhite 2, Daniel Jacobsen 4, Gabe Trujillo 14, Isaiah Denetclaw 3. Total 20 14-22 57. ATRISCO HERITAGE (0-1): Tony Pacheco 1, Javier Mendoza 13, Chris Parra 11, Diego Miscles-Rivera 3, Marquise Renfro 3, LaTavious Morris 3, Colby Wade 9. Total 15 6-10 43. La Cueva 10 18 13 16-57 Atrisco Heritage 9 8 15 11-43 3-point goals: LC 3 (Guliford 2, Denetclaw); AH 7 (Parra 2, Renfro, Morris, Mendoza, Wade, Miscles-Rivera). Total fouls: LC 10; AH 20. Fouled: AH, Pacheco.
The La Cueva Bears fired the first major volley of this class 5A basketball season for boys.
In a matchup that could be played on the pit floor sometime in March – and will definitely be played again at least once during the regular season – the bears have a double-digit lead in the first half on the strength of security guard Josiah Guliford’s shot , then withstood a tough attack from Atrisco Heritage in the second half before pulling away for an opening 57:43 win on Tuesday evening.
“Our team really stuck together tonight,” said Guliford, La Cuevas junior point guard. “When they went on runs, we didn’t fold. We got together and I think that helped us get through this. “
It was the 5-foot-10 Guliford who injected the La Cueva offensive with its first – and, it turned out, pivotal – jolt in a highly anticipated prelude at Atrisco Heritage.
Guliford scored 10 of his best 14 points in the first three minutes of the second quarter. He buried two 3-pointers, a midrange jumper, and a 5-foot floater as the Bears made their first five field goals of the quarter and six of their first seven shots to take a 24-13 lead mid-quarter.
“It wasn’t even the goal,” said La Cueva coach Brian Joyce. “He dictated the game. He controlled the game, between him and Exodus (Ayers) they did well, pushing it when we had the advantage and pulling it back when we didn’t. “
The Jaguars got the upper hand early, scoring nine of the game’s 13 points, including 3s from Javier Mendoza and Chris Parra.
La Cueva scored the last six in the last three minutes of the first quarter, including two layups from Gabe Trujillo, who also finished with 14 points. The Bears were leading 10-9 after the first eight minutes.
Combined with the breakout at the start of the second quarter, the bears created an overall run of 22-4 to take a lead they never gave up.
“I said (Josiah) if you learn to control the game without your shot, then eventually, if you have good shots, they’ll be wide open,” said Joyce.
Over 8 1/2 minutes of playing time, the Jaguars were limited to four points during the extended run of La Cueva.
“Instead of accelerating, we just settled down,” said Joyce.
But Atrisco Heritage switched defensive in the second half, began bringing La Cueva into the zone and the Jaguars steadily climbed back into the game.
Diego Miscles-Rivera’s Treys and LaTavious Morris cut the deficit to 10 at 35-25 mid-quarter. In the fourth quarter Colby Wade pocketed a 3, Parra hit two free throws and Atrisco Heritage scored the first seven of the quarter just under 41-39 with 5:53 to go.
But that was as close as the Jaguars when the fouls and free throws piled up for La Cueva. The Bears pulled away with a dozen free throws in the last 5 1/2 minutes.
“We emphasized the importance of staying calm on the road, especially against a good team like Atrisco,” said Joyce. “And I thought our boys did that.”
Ayers finished with 12 points for La Cueva.
Mendoza led the Jaguars with 13 points. Parra added 11.
In an unusual plan, these teams will play again in La Cueva on January 27th. In Albuquerque public schools, the game boards outside of the county seldom compete against each other more than once in the regular season.