It was the perfect end to the perfect season.
Saturday night in the Pit, the Volcano Vista boys basketball team finished off an unbeaten season by outlasting No. 1 Las Cruces (31-1) 66-55 in overtime to win the Class 5A state basketball championship.
The second-seeded Hawks (29-0) overcame a fourth-quarter rally by the Bulldawgs to win a highly anticipated battle of the state’s best teams in front of about 11,000 fans.
Las Cruces overcame a 10-point deficit in the fourth and took a 48-45 lead on an alley-oop dunk from Isaiah Carr with 54 seconds left and were up 49-47 following a Kaden Self free throw with 13 seconds left.
Volcano Vista senior J’Kwon Hill then drove into the lane and drew a foul with 4.1 seconds to play. Hill coolly nailed both free throws to send the game to overtime.
Fellow senior Jaden Malone scored all six of his points in the extra period, and Volcano Vista cruised to its second state championship.
“J’Kwon and Jaden came up big for us; they deserve it,” Volcano Vista head coach Greg Brown said. “They are guys that have spent tons of time in the gym. This is a very important part of their life. They are basketball players and they’re two true gym rats. They grew up in the gym and so when the moment was the biggest, they came through. They were deserving of success.”
The win also made history.
The Volcano Vista girls finished the season 29-0 and won the 5A title Friday night. Volcano Vista is the first school to have both its boys and girls teams go undefeated in the same season.
Volcano Vista also became the first boys team from Albuquerque Public Schools to post an unbeaten season.
Volcano Vista will graduate seven seniors from this team.
Hill paced the Hawks with 17 points and fellow 12th-grader Sean Alter added 15.
Freshman Kenyon Aguino added 13 for the Hawks.
“It’s beyond special,” Brown said. “I’m so happy for these guys. I want this to be their moment as well. My dad would want that. This is super special for our family. But you know, obviously they’re part of our family, too.”
Brown’s father, legendary prep basketball coach Mike, passed away in June, so this title had a different feeling than the one the Hawks won in 2017 as a 12-seed.
“I believe he’s still with us,” Brown said. “It’s my spiritual belief, and I talked to him all the time. I had a beyond special relationship with him and I feel like I still do. He was great to his players, and he motivates me to try to be the same way with my guys.”