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May 1—On the last Friday night of prep basketball’s regular season, there were some teams in the metro area that clinched district championships, and one for sure that is on the threshold.

There was much to dissect on the eve of the announcement of the state tournament brackets, which will be revealed on Saturday night by the New Mexico Activities Association.

BOYS: Cleveland secured the District 1-5A title, beating Rio Rancho 67-58 on the Rams’ floor.

Although the Storm and Atrisco Heritage, which edged visiting Volcano Vista 55-52, tied for first with a 7-1 district record, Cleveland earns the automatic bid to state based on a tie-breaking edge with the Jaguars.

Both Cleveland and Atrisco Heritage will be in the field next week in the Class 5A playoffs.

“We can’t wait to get out there next week,” said Cleveland senior guard Nate Hasberry. “I think we’re ready to go at it.”

The 5A quarterfinals are Tuesday.

What other teams are for sure in the bracket? Las Cruces, the District 3 champ, plus District 5 champion Los Lunas.

Sandia is on the verge of the District 2 championship after the Matadors went on the road and routed Eldorado 67-47 on Friday night.

The Matadors (8-1 both overall and in 2-5A) will clinch the district title, and a bid to state, if they win at home on Saturday afternoon against West Mesa.

“It’s a scary game for us,” Sandia coach Danny Brown said. “Because we played from behind the last time we played them. They hit 12 3s, and we didn’t defend very well.”

La Cueva (7-2 in 2-5A) faces a crucial game on Saturday against Eldorado, which won’t have head coach Roy Sanchez against the Bears after he was ejected early in the second quarter Friday night.

La Cueva will win the district if it wins, and West Mesa upsets Sandia.

GIRLS: Eldorado senior guard Hayley Valencia authored the most important, and clutch, shot of the night.

Her driving layup at the buzzer lifted the Eagles to a 39-37, come-from-behind victory over visiting La Cueva, a win that secured the 2-5A championship for Eldorado (6-1 overall and in district).

“I knew they weren’t gonna try to foul me,” Valencia said. “I think I took a spin at, like, 5 seconds, and then got to the basket with just enough time.”

Every other team in 2-5A has at least three losses, so the Eagles’ afternoon game Saturday at Sandia will hold little meaning to them except to perhaps improve their seeding for the playoffs.

La Cueva (7-3) is virtually guaranteed a postseason bid since the Bears are assured of finishing no worse than in second place in 2-5A. Sandia is a team that needs a win Saturday against Eldorado, for the Matadors could secure third place in the district and put themselves in position for a possible at-large bid.

Los Lunas (10-1 overall, 10-0 in 5-5A) completed a perfect run through its district with a 65-50 road win Friday night at second-place Albuquerque High. The Tigers put themselves in a position to lock up a home game in Tuesday’s state quarterfinals.

Hobbs, Volcano Vista and Centennial all will enter the 5A state tournament with undefeated records.

One of the teams expected to be in contention for an at-large bid in 5A, Carlsbad, the second-place team behind Hobbs in 4-5A, had its season end Friday after a positive COVID-19 test.

One of the most dramatic games Friday was at Bernalillo, where the Spartans (11-1 overall, 7-1 in 6-4A) won the district title, slipping past Hope Christian (8-3, 6-2) 52-50 to take the regular-season crown. Both teams were tied for first when the day began.