The La Cueva and West Mesa basketball teams will be hard-pressed to match the scoring frenzy of their gridiron counterparts after a fireworks show at Nusenda Community Stadium on Thursday night.
The Bears pulled away for an 89-62 District 2-6A victory over the Mustangs, as the teams combined to break New Mexico’s single-game state record for points in an 11-Man game. The 151 points on Thursday shattered the previous mark of 130, set just three years ago when Roswell defeated Lovington 76-54.
“As a defensive guy,” La Cueva coach Brandon Back said, “it makes you want to throw up.”
La Cueva was led by senior quarterback Aidan Armenta, who threw for 445 yards and a whopping eight touchdowns. Five of those went to Ian Sanchez, while Jackson Hix was the recipient of the other three. Gabriel Buie added 154 yards and four scores rushing as the Bears racked up 683 yards of total offense. The teams combined for 1,232 yards of offense.
Armenta’s eight TD passes is one off the state record of nine, set by Hatch Valley’s Brett Henson in a playoff game versus Zuni in 2003.
“It was wild,” Armenta said. “I think it was good for us to be in a shootout like that. It drove us as an offense.”
The five touchdown receptions by Sanchez tied a state record, previously established by four players, including Cleveland’s Luke Wysong in a game at University Stadium in April of 2021 against Las Cruces.
West Mesa (3-5, 1-2 in 2-6A) went toe-to-toe with La Cueva (7-1, 2-0) for the better part of a half. The Mustangs jumped out to a 21-7 lead after one quarter and led 35-21 later in the half.
La Cueva led 47-42 at halftime, following a 40-point outburst in the second quarter.
The Mustangs were still within striking distance at 54-49 with 4:07 left in the third period. However, the Bears’ relentless offense and occasionally opportunistic defense wore down West Mesa down the stretch.
“It was a heck of a war,” Back said. “As a fan, it was probably fun to watch.”
Despite Armenta’s heroics, West Mesa quarterback Elijah Brody appeared to be the best player on the field for at least a portion of the contest. By the end of the evening, Brody accounted for 432 yards passing and another 88 rushing while having a hand in all nine of the Mustangs’ TDs. In a game where offenses ruled the evening, however, Brody’s four interceptions — including three in the second half — were a critical factor in helping La Cueva gain separation from a game opponent.
West Mesa has been no stranger to shootouts this season, suffering a heartbreaking 59-54 loss to Atrisco Heritage on Sept. 16 and falling to Farmington by a 48-41 count one week earlier. La Cueva, meanwhile, hadn’t allowed more than 29 points in a game until Thursday night.
In the modern era, there is at least one New Mexico 11-Man team that scored more points than La Cueva did on Thursday. Los Alamos in 2007 beat Bernalillo 95-0. It was not immediately known if there were any others over the 90-point threshold in this century.
Among metro-area 11-Man programs, Albuquerque Academy scored 89 in a game against Taos in 2011.
The single-game 11-Man state record is 124 points, set by Deming in 1923 against Tularosa.
La Cueva broke a school record for points in a game. The previous record, Back said, was 82.
Back paid homage to West Mesa afterward.
“They outcoached us, they outplayed us, they had a great game plan and they executed it really well,” Back said.
He remembers being part of a 56-55 loss against Manzano back in 2010.
“I thought that was terrible,” he said.
But it was a win, and it keeps La Cueva on track to win the District 2-5A championship. The Bears face Sandia next week. West Mesa goes outside of district to play Rio Grande.
“I’m exhausted,” Back said. “I can’t imagine how tired the kids are. That was a literal.”
Journal Staff Writer James Yodice contributed to this story.
LA CUEVA 89, WEST MESA 62
La Cueva 7 40 14 28 — 89
West Mesa 21 21 7 13 — 62
Scoring: LC, Ian Sanchez 41 pass from Aidan Armenta (Mason Crowell kick); WM, Hayden Nichols 10 pass from Elijah Brody (kick failed); WM, Chris Johnson 55 pass from Brody (pass good); WM, Brody 1 run (Elijah Espinoza kick); LC, Gabriel Buie 7 run (Crowell kick); LC, Jackson Hix 53 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); WM, Brody 1 run (Espinoza kick); WM, Brody 15 run (Espinoza kick); LC, Hix 38 pass from Armenta (kick blocked); LC, Buie 56 run (Crowell kick); LC, Sanchez 32 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); WM, Robert Ramirez 15 pass from Brody (Espinoza kick); LC, Buie 51 run (kick blocked); LC, Sanchez 12 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); WM, Robert Ramirez 18 pass from Brody (Espinoza kick); LC, Buie 1 run (Crowell kick); LC, Cameron Dyer 48 run (Crowell kick); WM, Johnson 21 pass from Brody (Espinoza kick); LC, Sanchez 51 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); LC, Sanchez 43 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); LC, Hix 18 pass from Armenta (Crowell kick); WM, Ramirez 15 pass from Brody (kick blocked). Rec.: 7-1 2-0 , WM 3-5, 1-2.
Rushes yards: LC 22-238; WM 29-117. Passing: LC 20-31-0—445; WM 26-50-4-432. Total offense: LC 683; WM 549. First downs: WM 23; LC 10. Penalties yards: LC 16-211; WM 10-100. Fumbles lost: LC 2-0; World Cup 1-1. Punts avg.: LC 1-48; WM 2-39.
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