Eight months ago, the boys basketball team from Volcano Vista High School finished a perfect season with an overtime win over Las Cruces in the Pit to win the Class 6A state championship. But that is in the past.
The 2022-23 season kicks off for the Hawks Tuesday at St. Pius, and this year’s team looks a lot different than the one that went 29-0 and won the blue trophy in March.
Volcano Vista lost six seniors and returns just two players who played a big role last year.
“Our mindset is to not worry about it; we have a new team and new challenges,” Volcano Vista head coach Greg Brown said. “We lost some kids that were an important part of last year’s team and the best way for us to celebrate them and honor them is to you know, try to work our butts off like they did and play together like that team. But is a different team, a different year with new challenges.”
The Hawks will lean heavily on big men Sean Alter, a senior, and sophomore Kenyon Aguino this year, who each played key roles on the championship-winning team. They’ll both be counted on to lead the team, on the court and off. Brown expects the players from last year’s team to step up and provide veteran leadership this season.
“The seniors taught us a lot and it’s the next man up kind of mentality,” Brown said. “Those seniors I mean, our our underclassmen were paying attention to those guys. And they’re gonna lead this team in a similar way, but in their way, so, we’re excited about it.”
Aguino burst on the scene last year as a freshman and flashed the potential to be one of the best players in Albuquerque. He scored 13 points in the state title game, showing that the he can perform on the big stage despite his inexperience. Brown said there’s more to come from his talented sophomore.
“He’s going to be one of our go-to guys, and he’s taken on a leadership role for us,” Brown said. “For a sophomore, he’s extremely mature, and it’s both physically and in terms of leadership. He’s gonna play a big role for us.”
With all the changes on the team, the biggest constant is Brown, who said his team will again use the fast-paced offense and swarming defense the coach is known for. Brown, the son of legendary coach Mike Brown, has won two state titles at Volcano Vista and one at Manzano. He expects this team to again be in the mix.
“I’m not much of a prediction guy, but, we’re gonna work hard and to get better,” Brown said.
Note: The girls team at Volcano Vista also went undefeated and won a state title last year. Coming Thursday, the Neighborhood Journal looks at the team’s prospects for the upcoming season.