RIO RANCHO – This hasn’t been true fairly often of late, but it surely appears to be true this season: the Rio Grande Ravens appear like they’ll be a particular participant in Class 5A boys basketball.

Rio Grande scored its ultimate six factors from the free-throw line on Wednesday afternoon, because the Ravens continued to impress within the first month of the season. They gutted out a 55-52 victory over Santa Fe within the first spherical of the Jalene Berger Allstate Vacation Hoops Basic at Rio Rancho Excessive College.

St. Pius and Española Valley additionally had been first-round winners Wednesday. The Sartans, with a close to buzzer-beater, edged Hope Christian 67-66 in time beyond regulation. Española Valley, in a matchup of Sundevils, was a 47-45 winner over Sandia Prep.

St. Pius and Rio Grande meet at 5 p.m. Thursday within the semifinals; the groups additionally performed on Dec. 1, a 48-44 Rio Grande victory. The late semifinal, at 7 p.m. Thursday, options Española Valley and both the host Rams or Socorro, Texas, who had been on the ground late Wednesday.

Rio Grande (6-3) already has received two extra video games this season than it did all of final season, and the Ravens improved to 3-0 in video games determined by 4 or fewer factors.

Senior guard Jonah Lopez scored a game-best 24 factors for Rio Grande, and he additionally had the defensive play of the sport. He took a cost in opposition to the Demons’ Lukas Turner with 2 seconds left. The ball went by means of the basket and it appeared Santa Fe had tied the sport at 54-all, but it surely was waved off on the offensive foul.

“I simply stepped in,” mentioned Lopez, who was underneath the climate Wednesday and maybe shouldn’t have even performed, coach Mario Armendariz mentioned. “It was gonna be a bang-bang play and we bought the good thing about the doubt.”

The second half, particularly, was extremely shut, with eight ties and 6 lead adjustments. The Ravens bought to the road 28 instances, making 20; Santa Fe (4-5), by comparability, was 11 of 15. Rio Grande made 14 free throws within the fourth quarter alone.

“I nonetheless suppose the perfect of this group is but to come back,” Armendariz mentioned, “as soon as we clear up the little issues.”

Jonathon Lukesh added 14 factors and Santiago Gonzales 10 for the Ravens. Turner led Santa Fe with 22 factors.

St. Pius-Hope was most likely essentially the most entertaining recreation of the primary day, as the 2 Albuquerque personal faculties slugged it out for 36 minutes, together with the additional 4 in time beyond regulation.

St. Pius junior guard Jason Montoya’s layup with 1 second remaining in OT gave the Sartans a dramatic victory over Hope in a good, back-and-forth affair through which neither group gained separation. There have been half a dozen lead adjustments and 6 ties within the second half and OT alone.

The Huskies (5-2) led 66-63 within the ultimate minute. Alejandro Sapien’s basket, his solely one of many recreation, minimize the result in 66-65 for the Huskies with 55 seconds to go.

Surprisingly, Hope tried a shot – with the lead – with 13 seconds left reasonably than look ahead to St. Pius to foul. The shot missed, and the Sartans rebounded. They known as timeout with 7 seconds left and diagrammed the profitable play. Montoya inbounded to Brian Kalb, who gave it again to Montoya, who discovered a surprisingly open lane to the basket for the game-winner.

“That’s precisely what we drew up,” Montoya mentioned. “We simply needed to belief coach and convey his play to life. I simply had to make use of my pace and end the layup.”

Stated St. Pius coach Ryan Myers: “We simply tried to get an athletic man in area and let him make a play, and that’s precisely what he did. Jason Made us look actually good.”

Kalb had 22 factors to guide St. Pius.

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