Unstoppable? CHS boys keep rolling
CHS senior Jalen Munn ?flies through the air with the greatest of ease.?Gary Herron photo/Observer
The top-rated Cleveland High School boys basketball team moved into Saturday’s championship game of the Cleveland Storm Tournament after a hard-fought 100-97 victory over Roswell in a semifinal game Friday evening.
The Storm (4-0) moved on to meet Sandia, a 73-54 winner over Espanola Valley in the other semifinal, Saturday afternoon.
On Thursday, the Storm had no problems with Piedra Vista.
Storm 81, Piedra Vista 32: For some reason, the Panthers have no chance of hanging close to Cleveland in the Storm Center.
As District 1-6A rivals the past two seasons, the Storm beat PV 80-27 in 2017 and 82-47 earlier this year, and Thursday’s quarterfinal rout gave the Storm an average margin of victory of 36 points.
This time, it took the Panthers almost 13 minutes to get into double figures, and when they did, they found themselves trailing 33-10.
At halftime, it was 44-12 and after three periods, 62-21.
The Storm had runs of 18-4 in the first period and 14-0 midway through the game; the most unanswered points the Panthers amassed was a 5-0 run late in the fourth quarter.
It wasn’t only the Storm’s explosive offense that paved the way for the victory; the Storm also have a tenacious defense, which helped the Panthers turn the ball over 27 times, while the Storm committed only nine turnovers.
“You know what? (Our defense) is not where it needs to be, but we are very deep and it was good to get these football kids out here ? Tre Watson, Jeff Davison and Trey Ortega ? defensively, just to get them better,” Jimenez said.
“That’s how we’re gonna play ? we’re a full-court pressing team. We know there’s gonna be times we have to guard in the half-court,” he added. “But I really like what our guys did tonight.”
Nakqi Smith and Josh Tarry led the way with 17 points each, Jalen Munn had 13 and Watson’s first varsity appearance of the season resulted in 10 points, eight coming in the fourth quarter and four to back-to-back baseline layups.
Storm 100, Roswell 97: The eighth-ranked Coyotes (5-2) had no aversion to putting the ball up from long range, finishing the thriller with 14 3-pointers, including eight by Tarren Burrola, who also went 9 of 9 at the line and finished with a game-high 37.
The Storm made 10 of 25 from behind the arc and were led by Munn’s 22 points, although he fouled out with 3:07 to go in the third quarter.
The Storm’s starting five? Munn, Nate Hasberry (17), Smith (14) , Aamer Muhammad (12) and Tarry (10) ? finished in double-figures, as did reserve guard Evan Gonzales, who had 10.
Until the furious fourth quarter, the last time the Storm led was 23-22 with 1:21 to go in the first period. They grabbed the lead again at 79-78 with 6:03 to play; there were four lead changes down the stretch.
“We had two or three stops in a row,” Jimenez said. “That was the key to the game.”
Storm warnings: Cleveland’s not done with its season-opening homecourt streak: Its sixth game in a row at the Storm Center is Friday at 7 when Centennial visits, following a girls’ game between the two schools at 5. On Saturday, the boys and girls teams play a doubleheader at Mayfield.