Mesa Vista’s Baldonado Plays Hoops “Down Under” With U.S. “Falcons”
By Robert A. Naranjo
Ojo Caliente – Isaac Baldonado, a respectful, personable and talented athlete, graduated this spring from Mesa Vista High School with the Class of 2016. He played varsity on the Trojans basketball team that made it to New Mexico’s “Big Dance”–the 2016 NMAA State Basketball Tournament. Mesa Vista made it past the first round of the State Tournament, when they pulled off what their athletic director called a “miracle” upset, in overtime (OT), against perennial basketball power, Logan High School. The game was played in Ojo Caliente.
Then in the Quarterfinal round, at the Santa Ana Star Center, in Rio Rancho, Baldonado and his teammates gave the 2015 Class 2A defending champion, Magdalena, all they could handle but a missed call and a shot or two that didn’t go, ended the season for the Mesa Vista Trojans that day, falling short 57-52 in OT against the Magdalena Steers (24-5). However, the season didn’t end for senior Trojan, Isaac Baldonado.
Why did Baldonado’s basketball season continue after his team’s second round loss in the State Tournament? Two reasons: One, he was selected to play in Australia, but not as a Mesa Vista Trojan, but as member of the “U.S. Falcons,” one of ten teams organized to play basketball in Australia, a country that is commonly referred to “As The Land Down Under,” due to that continent’s location in the southern hemisphere of the world.
The Valley Daily Post interviewed Baldonado, upon his return from Australia. He said he had just landed at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport), then connected on a flight straight to Albuquerque, and stopped in Espanola to get a hairstyle at the Establishment Barber Shop located at The Rock Business Center. Asked why he didn’t stay in Los Angeles at least for a day or two, he said he couldn’t because he had the annual New Mexico North/South game on Thursday, July 28 at Del Norte High School in Albuquerque.
The North/South game is the second reason that Baldonado continued his basketball season, taking him halfway into the summer. Getting ready for the annual North/ South game was the motivation for stopping at the Establishment for a hair style on his way to Ojo Caliente.
Asked how many players from New Mexico were selected to play in Australia, Baldonado said he was one of three basketball players from the state selected to go, the other two were from the northwest part of the state. He added that the two girls from the Gallup area were on a team that earned a Fourth Place and his team, the U.S. Falcons, took Fifth Place. Photo shows Baldonado with the U.S. Falcons, he is in center of photo wearing all black. Photo taken in Australia. Courtesy Photo
Asked how he was selected, Baldonado said his coach for the U.S. Falcons said that it was, in part, through Max Preps, but added that there was only a little information on him on the sports site. He said other players have quite a bit more highlights and stats on Max Preps than he did. Be that as it may, he’s listed at 5’11” and 180 pounds on the Max Preps sports site, and that may have helped in receiving the honor of being selected along with the two young ladies from New Mexico’s northwest, and the trio made up New Mexico’s player contribution to the hoop basketball tournament “In The Land Down Under.”
The trip was financed by fundraisers, Baldonado said, not by DUS.
And when given a choice to continue his trip and play in Hawaii, Baldonado said he turned it down because he had New Mexico’s annual North/South game to play in. Good choice. There’s always Hawaii, but there’s only one chance to close out one’s senior year playing basketball while representing the Mesa Vista Trojans and the community of Ojo Caliente, too, and all the smaller communities that make up MVHS.
Yes, Baldonado made the right choice.