Valley makes it a sweep of Albuquerque Academy

Feb. 9—The merry-go-round in District 6-4A boys basketball started its second spin Friday night. On the first circle, there was Valley winning at home over Albuquerque Academy. There was Academy winning at home over Hope Christian. And there was Hope winning at home (in OT) over Valley.

Class 4A's top-ranked Vikings fired the first salvo on the second trip, going into Academy and beating the second-ranked Chargers 63-56 on Friday.

"Road wins are tough to get anywhere, especially this place," Valley coach EZ Panas said. "They're really good, they're really talented, and not many teams have come in here and won the last two, three years."

There were three teams atop the 6-4A standings when the day began, but only two, Valley and Hope, after Friday's results.

"It's a big win for us," Panas said. "It puts us back in the driver's seat."

The Vikings (18-5, 4-1 in 6-4A) won the rematch with Academy similarly to how they won the first game 2 1/2 weeks ago, getting a double-digit lead in the second half and holding off an Academy rally.

On Friday, Valley amassed a 15-point lead (53-38) midway through the fourth quarter, but the Chargers got the deficit down to four in the last minute.

Ultimately, Academy's foul trouble sunk its chances. Valley was in the bonus with 5:19 left in the game. The Vikings shot 18 free throws in the fourth quarter.

"We really stuck together," said Valley guard Julian Chavez, who scored a team-best 19 points. "Our mentality was to get to the basket tonight, and we wanted to get into the bonus early."

Senior guard Diego Miscles-Rivera had one of his best games of the season for Valley. He was 5 of 7 from the field and finished with 16 points.

"He did phenomenal tonight," Chavez said.

It was not anything new for Panas.

"I've seen it all summer," Panas said. "He averaged 26 on JV last year, and I've seen him do it in practice. He's trying to put it together now ... and he gives us that third threat on the floor."

That third player to whom he refers is guard Tyler Kozlowski, who added 13 points, including a corner 3-pointer for that 53-38 lead with 4:41 left.

Dillon McCleskey scored 20 points, Joe Jack 17 and Justin Mask 14 for the Academy (17-4, 3-2).

"They're one of the best teams in 4A and we took them down twice," Chavez said.

The Vikings meet Hope Christian in the North Valley next Friday.

RECORD BREAKER: Bella Hines' 38-point game on Friday night has apparently elevated the Eldorado High junior guard into the No. 1 spot on the all-time scoring list for girls who played in Albuquerque Public Schools.

Hines sits at 2,110 points; the all-time record holder, Jill Shaver of Eldorado, scored 2,101 points in her career, which ended in 1990.