ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico - It was no secret that defending 5A champion Las Cruces High was underseeded in this year's state tournament. And they nearly proved it tenfold in Saturday's title game, but a 4th quarter run from Cleveland put that notion as well as potential repeat to bed.
Tre Foster's bucket with eight seconds to go put Cleveland ahead 39-38, a margin they held onto throught the final period en route to a 55-49 victory at the University of New Mexico.
Las Cruces' David Cruz hit a three-pointer with 20 seconds left to cut the lead to 51-49, but Cleveland their free throws down the stretch and the Bulldawgs faltered.
The Bulldawgs got double digit efforts from star juniors Deuce Benjamin, son of Coach William Benjamin, and Isaiah Carr. Both Benjmain and Carr have Division-I offers.
It looked as though Las Cruces would pull away in the third, after overcoming a deficit with a 10-run to take a 36-33 lead.
But top-seeded Cleveland kept pace, and it paid off with their first state basketball title in school history.