Eldorado High Freshman Guard Bella Hines was offered a scholarship from the University of New Mexico last week. (Courtesy Michelle Hines)
The University of New Mexico Women’s Basketball already has two New Mexicans on its roster. And from next year two more locals will be there.
And maybe Bella Hines, too, in the fall of 2025.
Eldorado’s preeminent 5-foot-9 freshman combo guard has already received a scholarship from Lobos trainer Mike Bradbury.
Bradbury extended the offer over the phone last week, Hines said.
“It was a big surprise,” said Hines, 15. “UNM is my home school and I was so excited and happy when he offered me.”
Hines has only played seven games for the Eagles but she is already making an impression, averaging 24 points per game for the Scorched Orange.
UNM was actually Hines’ second official offer; JR Giddens, a trainer at Northern New Mexico College, offered Hines when she was an eighth grader at Hoover Middle School.
And she’s already talking to Nebraska and Arizona State, and Hines said she’d send films to LSU.
“I think all the attention is cool, but I’ll just stay humble because that’s how humble I got to be where I am today,” she said.
Hines is a former club colleague of Natalia Chavez and Jaelyn Bates from Volcano Vista; this duo of the Hawks signed with the Lobos earlier this year. The current UNM list includes Sandia High’s youngest graduate, Vianè Cumber, and former Roswell high-standout Jaedyn De La Cerda.
Hines said she was on the phone with Lobo assistant Symone Denham last week when Bradbury was added to the call.
“(He said) I would fit in well with their program,” said Hines. “You love my attitude and personality.”
The Eagles will next be on the floor at home against Highland on Tuesday night, then they’ll be free until the Albuquerque Metro Championships begin on January 4th.
“I’ll be completely honest. I think it hasn’t scratched the surface, ”said Eldorado coach Leroy Barela of Hines. “She’s probably one of the best I’ve ever seen, male or female. She is a very talented basketball player. “
Speaking of FROSH: Hines may be the best freshman in Albuquerque, but she’s nowhere near the only sparkling ninth grader.
Sandia has three – Audri Wright, Hope Giddings and Sydney Benally – who already have a huge impact on the Matadors (6-1).
The 5-9 Wright averaged 7.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists for Sandia. The 5-8 giddings averaged 11.2 points and 5.8 rebounds. And Benally, a 5-9 guard, leads the Matadors in scoring with 14 points per game and also averages 5 rebounds and 3.4 assists.
This trio was part of one of the biggest comeback wins of the season – amazing, really – last Friday night at Albuquerque High. The Bulldogs were leading by 22 points (37-15) at halftime, but Sandia stormed back for a 49:47 win.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Sandia coach Lee Kettig. “It was amazing.”
These three newbies combined for 43 of the matadors’ 49 points. Benally finished with 17 points, Wright 14 and Giddings 12.
METRO BRACKET: The brackets for the Metro tournament are out. Volcano Vista and La Cueva will be seeded with 1-2 in both genders for the event from January 4th to 8th.
The first-round boys’ games in the top half of the draw are: No. 1 Volcano Vista vs. No. 16 Rio Grande, No. 8 Rio Rancho vs. No. 9 Eldorado, No. 5 Highland vs. No. 12 Cibola, and No. 4 Cleveland against No. 13 Hope Christian.
In the lower half it is No. 3 Atrisco Heritage against No. 14 Manzano, No. 6 Sandia against No. 11 Del Norte, No. 7 Valley against No. 10 West Mesa, and the second-placed Bears against No. 15 Albuquerque high.
On the girls’ side, the top seeded Hawks open with Rio Grande. Also in the upper half it is No. 8 Rio Rancho against No. 9 Hope, No. 5 Albuquerque High meets No. 12 Valley and No. 4 Cleveland against No. 13 Del Norte.
In the lower half, No. 3 Sandia plays against No. 14 Cibola, No. 6 Highland meets No. 11 West Mesa, No. 7 Eldorado meets No. 10 Atrisco Heritage and No. 2 La Cueva meets No. 15 Manzano .
Quarter-finals are January 5th, semifinals are January 7th (girls in Volcano Vista, boys in West Mesa) and the championship games are Saturday, January 8th in West Mesa with the boys at 4pm, followed by the girls finals at 6pm
THIS AND THAT: Magdalena’s standout guardian, Senior Joren Mirabal, announced on Twitter Saturday that he had received his first college offer from eastern New Mexico. The 6-2 guard for the Steers (9-0) had an average of almost 30 points per game before a tournament last weekend in Texico. … The boys of the Bosque School start 6-1 and the Bobcats won the Ben Lujan White Bracket Title in Pojoaque on Saturday with a 66:64 win over Mesa Vista.