Magdalena’s D’Shaun Vinyard was named Co-MVP amd placed third in the 1A-5A slam dunk competition.
Russell Huffman | El Defensor Chieftain

GALLUP—All six Socorro County players made their marks at the New Mexico High School Coaches Association’s All-Star basketball games as Magdalena’s D’Shaun Vinyard and Alamo Navajo’s Hailey Apachito capped off their playing careers with stellar performances.

Played at Gallup High School over the weekend, the senior invitational features the best players from 1-5A basketball. Vinyard rose to the top in the 1-2A game and was named the game’s co-Most Valuable player after scoring 22 points against some of the best players in the state.

Vinyard also placed third in the 1-5A slam dunk contest.

“I’m really blessed to be one of the ones that got picked. This has been an awesome experience,” Vinyard said. “It’s different just because I’ve been taught for so many years a certain way of playing. These guys have all been taught differently because no one’s taught the same. It’s a different experience. It’s fun to learn new things.”

One thing players didn’t learn about was Apachito played the majority of her senior season with a broken foot, and the injury will soon require surgery.

While the injury has cut into her overall speed and rebounding ability, it didn’t hurt her shooting, and all-star coaches may regret not having her pull the trigger from behind the arc.

During Friday’s three-point shooting contest against 1-5A competition, Apachito burned the net down as she won the girls’ championship with a 16-of-25 performance. She then upped her game with a match against the boys’ champion and melted the net with a blazing 19-of-25 show against 14-of-25.

More than anything, the weekend was about recognizing the state’s top players and giving the fans one last chance to see them perform.

For the players, it was about playing their last high school game, playing under different coaches, and learning they and their opponents had lots in common.

“I’ve played against some of these guys. And it’s nice to get a different perspective because you kind of build an image of how they are. Then you meet them and spend time with them, and they’re not really like that. They’re just like we are,” Kael Stephens said.

Stephens suited up against his teammate Vinyard for the contest and said there hadn’t been any pregame trash-talking.

“We always go against each other in practice, so that’s not going to be any different. There might be a little joking going on during the game,” Stephens said.

Socorro’s Marcus Armijo and Warren Chewiwi also found themselves on opposite teams for the first time. Both players made their mark with timely passes and even had a couple of flashy drives to the bucket.

The 109-107 score impressed Armijo.

“This was a crazy high-scoring game,” Armijo said. “I’m happy to have had the opportunity to meet and play with such a great group of guys.

It was a feeling shared by his fellow Socorro Warrior Warren Chewiwi.

“You see all the talent that we have in New Mexico, and it’s really cool to be able to play against the top guys and in 1A and 2A basketball,” Chewiwi said. “Hopefully, our younger players in Socorro will work hard in everything they do. You know people are always looking at you, and you can always have a shot to play with some of the best in the state.”

Alamo Navajo’s Mathis Apachito had a couple of beautiful fakes in the paint as he pulled off no-look passes.

“I’ve had a wonderful experience and met some amazing people,” Apachito said.