ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The 2021 State Basketball Tournament is a wrap in New Mexico, as four games capped off high school basketball on Saturday in the Pit. Like the rest of the tournament, Saturday was filled with some huge wins and a lot of emotion.
In the Class 5A Boys Championship, Cleveland edged out Las Cruces 55-49. This state title marks the first in school history for boys basketball. “The chance to be the first team to ever do it is something spectacular and we just want to show the younger guys that anything you put your mind to, you can get it done,” said Tre Watson III (17 points).
“We had a great group, we had a special group this year and I knew if we just kept together as a team and just keep fighting through, taking it step by step, we knew we could make it to this point. It just feels amazing to finally win a state championship,” said Nathan Hasberry (17 points).
The Class 5A Girls game definitely had the most thrilling finish in this year’s tournament, as Natalia Chavez of Volcano Vista hit a half-court buzzer beater to win their game against Hobbs, 52-49. “Once I got the ball in and I saw them back up, I just took the chance and I just went. I just threw it up hoping that it would go in. Honestly, me and Jaelyn messed around taking those shots at practice and I can’t believe I actually made one in the state championship in overtime,” said Natalia Chavez (21 points).
Del Norte High School also won their first State Title in boys basketball history on Saturday, and this is a big deal as Del Norte opened in 1964. They beat Artesia 52-41. “It’s like relief. I mean, there has been so much build-up of trying to get to this point and like you said, year after year we have gotten close, and the kids, they could feel it too. Like this was our year from the beginning,” said Head Coach Jeron McIntosh.
The Gallup Girls won the 4A Girls State Title on Saturday, as they took out Espanola Valley 63-51. “It was an amazing feeling especially with the Gallup community coming here. It was good and it felt good, and we knew that we just couldn’t do it for ourselves but for also for our people at Gallup,” said Hailey Long (14 points).