ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (KTSM) – It was a tough result for the Las Cruces (31-1) boys’ basketball team as they suffered a, 66-55, overtime loss to Volcano Vista (29-0) in the NMAA boys’ basketball 5a title game.
It was the first undefeated showdown in 5A since 1999 and it was a game both teams wanted to win to claim the state champion crown.
The match-up between Las Cruces and Volcano Vista was a highly-anticipated rematch of their 2017 game which Volcano Vista managed to win.
The hype was there as many people packed into University of New Mexico’s “The Pit” in Albuquerque for the match-up between the two top teams in the state.
It was an intense start to the game as Las Cruces and Volcano Vista found themselves tied at 11 at the 3:46 point of the first quarter.
Volcano Vista found some life and and took a, 21-14, lead with 7:24 left to play in the second quarter. At halftime, the Hawks held a 29-22 lead over the Bulldawgs.
Las Cruces’ Deuce Benjamin and Isaiah Carr led the Bulldawgs in scoring with eight points each heading into the locker rooms at the half.
Las Cruces would have to find another gear in the second half of the game, especially heading into the fourth quarter as Volcano Vista held a 40-30 lead.
Las Cruces got as close as three points with 3:16 left after Carr hit two free throws.
The Hawks would answer with a big three-pointer that would extend their lead back to, 45-39 with 2:35 left to play.
Las Cruces rallied back to tie the game at 45 after a Kaden Self and-1.
Things seemed to swing Las Cruces’ way after a huge alley-oop connection between Deuce Benjamin and Isaiah Carr gave their team a 48-45 lead with 52.4 left in the game.
Volcano Vista countered with a basket of their own to trail, 48-47, and then tied the game after hitting two free throws with 4.1 left in the game.
Las Cruces had a chance to win it at the buzzer but a half court shot from Benjamin went off the rim and both teams went into overtime tied at 49.
A big turning point in the game happened in overtime when Las Cruces’ Isaiah Carr fouled out with 2:06 remaining and his team down by five, 56-51.
The Hawks controlled the game from there on out and grabbed a, 66-55, overtime victory to win the 5A state title game, keep their perfect record, and give Las Cruces their first and biggest loss of the season.
Despite the result, Las Cruces had a season to remember forever.
“This is our third year in a row playing in this championship game, it’s spectacular,” said Las Cruces boys’ basketball head coach William Benjamin. “It’s been an amazing ride and I’m very proud of them, but we just had too many turnovers. It’s amazing we went to overtime with that many turnovers, but they showed tremendous heart, did not give up, very proud of them.”