Nov. 24 (Reuters) – It’s been so long since there has been a basketball game at Rio Grande High School that almost none of the Ravens who were on the floor Tuesday night had ever attended a home game on their own campus.
“It was nice,” senior guard Jonah Lopez said. He was a freshman in February 2020, which was the last time the Ravens played a game in Rio Grande.
“I could feel the energy of the crowd.”
After over 2 1/2 years, Rio Grande officially unveiled its new 2,600 seat gym as the boys hosted Atrisco Heritage in a 2022-23 season opener.
The result, an 88-64 win for the Jaguars, wasn’t what the Ravens had hoped for, but there was some comfort in being part of a historic night for the venerable school that opened in 1959.
“I played here (1994)… it’s good to (have a new gym) not just for the students but for the community,” said Rio Grande coach Mario Armendariz.
For the record: Atrisco Heritage’s Latavious Morris had the first basket in the new arena just 11 seconds into play on a mid-level vaulter. The Jaguars actually scored the first 14 points of the game before junior guard Jonathon Lukesh had the first two points for the Ravens almost three minutes after tipoff.
Lukesh had the best 27 points of the game. Chris Parra had a team high of 26 to lead Atrisco Heritage. Morris added 20 points.
About 600 spectators attended the Rio Grande homecoming. As soon as Rio Grande hosted its last home game in late winter 2020 — which would have been just a few weeks before the pandemic shut down all high school sports in New Mexico — workers began demolishing the old gym.
The new gymnasium was built on the same site.
Unlike the old gymnasium, there is lower and upper level seating on each side of the gymnasium.
“It was nice to be home,” said Armendariz.
In the roughly 32 months since the last home game, the Ravens have been forced to practice at middle schools in their cluster. All had rubber floors, which was not an ideal environment, Armendariz noted.
But there were few great options as the Ravens boys and girls played a condensed schedule into spring 2021 and then all of 2021-22 away from the conveniences of the South Valley.
Aside from the early moments of the game, the Ravens felt they were in pretty good harmony with Atrisco Heritage, who are expected to be one of the better teams in Class 5A.
“This team isn’t much better than us,” said the 6-foot-2 Lopez. “We shot ourselves in the knee and hit ourselves.”
Tuesday marked opening night for a number of Albuquerque schools, including the two defending Class 5A champions.
The Volcano Vista boys took to the streets and crushed 4A St. Pius, 75-40. Forward Kenyon Aguino had 26 points and was 8 of 9 from the floor for the Hawks. David Gutierrez added 11 points and seven steals to the win.
At Volcano Vista, the girls won their 43rd straight game, 73-42 over Tohatchi.
Mari Manzanares had her first double-double of her career with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Taejhuan Hill led the Hawks by 18 points despite struggling most of the time.
NOTES: Del Norte senior guard Shane Douma-Sanchez equaled the 1,000-point total for his Knights career during a 35-point performance in Tuesday’s 77-55 win over Pojoaque Valley. … Senior guard Andres Maldonado’s 3-pointer by 2 seconds Monday night gave the Eldorado boys a 46-45 season-opening win at Carlsbad.