RIO RANCHO, N.M.
The adrenaline level hit an all-time high for the Dulce Hawks.
The same could be said for the Cuba Rams in the New Mexico Class 3A state boys quarterfinals as fans from both squads filled Rio Rancho High School to capacity on March 8.
Both teams came ready to play as Dulce held on to a 48-45 halftime lead before they exploded for 46 points in the second to post a 94-76 victory.
“We weren’t prepared for this setting and I think we just had too much adrenaline where we were missing layups,” Dulce coach Shane Valdez said when asked about the difference in both halves.
Valdez said the 21 turnovers they committed with 13 coming in the first half are very uncharacteristic and that really hurt them in the opening half.
“That’s very unusual for us to have that many, but Cuba is a real great team,” he said. “They made shots and they kept attacking us and that kept us off balance.”
The game, however, took a turn five minutes into the second half, as his team sprinted out to 70-53 advantage behind a barrage of treys from guards Scott Chavez and Anfernee Callado. During that 22-8 run, Dulce hit five treys with both players making two each.
“A lot of times our individual players, they feed off their offense,” Valdez said. “If they score we get a little more hustle. We were moving the ball and we were getting good looks. We weren’t forcing shots.”
Callado led Dulce’s attack with 32 points while senior post Tyrese Morgan added 23 with 19 of those points coming in the second half. Morgan played only eight minutes in the first half as he was saddled on the bench with three fouls.
The Hawks also had Chavez help out with 14 and Tyreek Redwine chipped in 13.
With the win, Dulce advanced into the state semis but they were eliminated in the next round by Pecos, the eventual state champs.
Cuba coach Waldo Gutierrez said Dulce caught them off guard in their quarterfinal match in the early going of the third quarter as the game started to slip away from them.
“They got hot and when you do that, your confidence goes up so they were hard to stop,” Gutierrez said. “Everything they shot was going but we didn’t play very good defense and that’s a credit to them.”