It’s been a perfect storm this season for Volcano Vista’s boys basketball team.
The experienced and talented squad capped an undefeated regular season with a 63-40 win over Atrisco Heritage Academy Friday, Feb. 18. The Hawks again beat Atrisco 60-34 in the District 1-5A tournament final to finish the year with a 25-0 record. Sunday, the Hawks were named as the No. 2 seed in the Class 5A state tournament.
Volcano Vista head coach Greg Brown said the key to this season’s success has been the team’s veterans.
Volcano Vista has six senior players and a senior team manager in Josiah Ramos.
Four of those seniors have played on varsity for four years.
“They know what it is to be a varsity player; they’re experienced,” Brown said. “They’re familiar with what we do on this team. It’s been a good year.”
Seniors Kaden Valdez, Tyler Martinez, Ja’Kwon Hill, Kieran Cordova, Jaden Malone and Oscar McCoy, who Brown calls the heart and soul of the team, have Volcano Vista with high hopes of making a run at a state crown. And after a disappointing 5-5 record in a COVID-shortened season last year, the team is aiming for its second state championship.
“It helps in dealing with these strange situations during COVID,” Brown said. “They’ve handled it well. This year, they’re seizing every opportunity, every moment. They’re playing well and playing for the right reasons.”
Despite going 25-0, Volcano Vista is the No. 2 seed, behind 28-0 Las Cruces. Brown said the team has downplayed its perfect season.
“We don’t talk about our record or focus much on that,” Brown said before the Cibola win. “We just try to play the right way and let the result be the result. It’s just about how we play, and that’s the most important thing.”
Volcano Vista has won one state championship in boys basketball since it opened in 2007, a shocking title run from a team seeded 12th in 2017. This year’s squad has the looks of a champion, but it does not resemble the previous title winner from the school.
“The culture is the same; kids are playing hard, but the teams are different,” Brown said. “That team that won in 2017 was a slow-the-game down team where we had to limit possessions. This team is the opposite. We need to get the game going up and down to take advantage of our skill and speed.”
Volcano Vista will begin what it hopes is another championship run when they host No. 15 Organ Mountain from Las Cruces at 6 p.m. Saturday.