Second half of prep basketball season is upon us; some metro tournament takeaways

Jan. 14—We have officially turned the corner. The first half of the prep basketball season is in the rear-view mirror now that the metro tournament has concluded.

The second half is stretched out in front of us, and district play will arrive shortly.

But before then, takeaways from the Albuquerque Metro Championships:

THIS GUARD DOESN'T WANT TO BE CHANGED: This remains Volcano Vista's world, and everyone else is just living in it.

Look, nothing is ever promised or guaranteed, but the gap between the Hawks and the chasing field in Class 5A remains significant. Not insurmountable, but significant.

There is, of course, one exception: Cleveland, the only team the last two seasons that has solved the Hawks.

And make no mistake, the Storm has the pieces to win it all come March 16. But, Volcano Vista hasn't been removed as Class 5A's alpha, and metros cemented their position as the favorite to win an unprecedented — for a metro-area school in the large-school boys division — third straight blue trophy.

As a side note, when Volcano's 6-foot-7 junior forward, Kenyon Aguino, decides to take over a game, as he clearly made the conscious decision to do Saturday in the fourth quarter of the metro final against the Storm (a 63-56 VV win), no individual in 5A is equipped to do anything to stop him.

He played fiercely, with strength, power and determination, and put the Hawks on his back offensively in the key minutes of a close final.

Should also mention, District 1-5A produced three of the boys metro semifinalists, including Atrisco Heritage; this league has produced half of the 20 state finalists in 5A over the last 10 seasons.

EXPANSION: The metro tournament seemed to give the appearance that the Class 5A girls division can be seized by someone other than just Hobbs. Although, this Hobbs group will still be quite difficult to supplant, understand that.

The Eagles, who admittedly were missing one of their best players over the weekend, were nevertheless outplayed in the metro semis by La Cueva. This was a hugely important win, psychologically speaking, for the Bears, who lost a heartbreaking two-point game to Hobbs in last season's state tournament semis.

La Cueva was beaten in the final minute on Saturday night by Volcano Vista for the metro crown, and the Hawks' bid for a fifth straight 5A state championship game appearance is very much in play. They had a superb week of basketball.

Volcano, La Cueva (shout out to Eva Love, who has been brilliant for the Bears) and Sandia all are going to have an excellent chance to be in the season's final game in two months at the Pit. Maybe even two of them, who knows. Hobbs will naturally have a major say in all of this.

OLÉ!: It's time we gave the Sandia boys a little bit more recognition than it has been receiving.

The Matadors already this month have whipped defending 4A state champion Albuquerque Academy (an excellent team) by 30 points, and last weekend reached the metro semis.

Yes, Sandia has five losses, but break it down. Three of those losses were to Volcano Vista, another to Atrisco Heritage, and a fifth to Highland. The Matadors are a player in 5A.

Sandia has real offensive depth and balance, and plays with a frantic pace they enjoy pushing. This could be a fun team to follow in the second half.

Which is upon us.