Boys Basketball Team Starts on a Tear

Big win over Espanola is a good start for the team


Joe Jack’24 gets the tip off.

On Wednesday, November 30, the Academy’s Boys Varsity Basketball team capped off a great day for Academy basketball with a trifecta, following same-day solid victories from the Junior Varsity and C teams.

The Varsity squad kicked off their 2022-2023 season as they faced the Espanola Valley Sundevils, and the Chargers began their opening night on a strong note, blowing out the Sundevils by 19 points.

The Chargers demonstrated a powerful offensive game, tough defense and dominated the boards. The final score: Academy 52, Sundevils 33.

The Chargers took control of the game from the opening tip-off, scoring on their first possession and never giving up their lead for the entirety of the game. They continued to push the ball up the court well, passed effectively, showed great teamwork and penetrated their offense into the paint with confidence. The Charger offense was evidently too much for the Espanola defense, and the Academy roundballers were able to push their lead quickly to 15-4 as the first quarter came to an end.

As play continued, the Academy not only dominated offensively, but the team was also a defensive threat. The Chargers were all over the Sundevils players—sticking to them like glue — racking up 11 steals as a team. Guard Jack Johnson ’24, and center Andres Rivera ’23, led the team with three steals a piece as they anticipated passes well from the Sundevil’s offense. Rivera also owned the paint, blocking five shots in the game. Espanola simply couldn’t muster anything on offense and the Chargers demoralized them with their defensive play.

Throughout the second quarter, Academy continued to take charge of the game on both sides of the court.

Guards Dillon Mccleskey, ‘24, and Justin Mask ‘24, and forward Joe Jack, ’24, proved to be the greatest offensive threat, attacking the paint with big scores and constantly spotting up for lots of three-pointers. This trio combined for 38 points for the Chargers.

Academy led at the half by a comfortable margin of 24-14.

Academy began the second half by extending their lead. They executed plays well, and kept the ball away from Espanola. The Sundevils never were able to catch up.

Academy pushed the ball up the court well, forcing Espanola to adjust their defense. The Chargers scored many of their points on easy layups, but their overall shooting of three-pointers was disappointing. They converted only 3 shots out of 20 attempts.

Jack ended the game as the top scorer with 16 points. Mccleskey and Mask contributed in the scoring binge with 11 points apiece.

“We’ve been in preseason for 10 weeks before this, so that’s probably a big component with all the chemistry we have together,” said Jack. “On offense, we shared the ball very well…We attacked the paint and we were able to convert in the paint a lot, so I thought that was a big part…I thought we played very good defense. I thought we were communicating a lot, and we just all knew where to be and it just all flowed very smoothly.”

Then the Academy forward spoke about his role on the team.

“I would consider myself one of the leaders on the team…a big thing is talking to your teammates and communicating with them.”

Jack not only led the team in points, but he was all over the court, grabbing 8 rebounds. Rivera also snatched 8 rebounds, as well as stealing the ball 3 times and blocking 5 shots. His blocks led the team.

After the game, Varsity Head Coach Marcos CdeBaca, in his second year as Head Coach, talked about his team’s victory.

“I thought we played well. Defensively, we held them (Espanola) to 33 points. Offensively, we struggled to shoot the three, but that will come.”

Coach CdeBaca then talked his strategy going into the game.

“What we really wanted to do was to focus on the defensive side of the ball…offensively, run plays that we practiced…the shots weren’t falling like we wanted too, but defensive was our main focus, and we were successful in that….We are hoping that our defense will be our strength, and that eventually our three pointers will go down and that will become one of our strengths also.”

The team said this was a great start to a long season.

On Thursday, December 1, the Chargers grabbed another win, dominating the Belen Eagles. They shot down the birds by 30 points, extending their record to 2-0.