This article is authored by: Lindsey R. Gilbert, Jr,. President and Head of Menaul School
Header Photo: Charles-Carlos Luis Vigil
Brother’s Keepers

For a storied athletic program like Menaul School’s, you would expect that state championships were common, but Menaul’s basketball history has sadly been serving as the best man. That is, until Saturday, March 12, 2022, when Menaul became the groom!

The 5th-ranked Menaul Panthers made an incredible run to win the 2A state Championship in The Pit. An 8 AM game time on a Saturday failing to faze this Menaul School team which practices at 7:00 AM three days a week.

The 60-53 #5 Panthers win over four-in-a-row previous state champ, Pecos High School, came through tough qualifying matches: defeating #12 Dulce 78 to 49 at home, #4 Escalante 61 to 55 at their gym, and #1 Tularosa 61 to 57 in the Rio Rancho Event Center. Menaul School brought the whole school to cheer on their team.

The championship game was full of back and forth for both teams.

Each team struggled to impose their style of play on the other. Pecos pressed all game and sought to push the tempo. Menaul slowed the game down and pounded the ball inside.

Early on Pecos penetrated seeking inside points but was frequently denied by Menaul’s big men – Brandon Oloumou and Max Mkpa’s length and ability to block and change shots. Coach Dan Gayle managed a brilliant game and their defense prevented Pecos from finding any rhythm.

Prashant and Max

Menaul’s offensive trigger man, Prashant Chouhan, drove and dished to Oloumou and Alex Rael, who scored regularly inside and out.

The game MVP was defensive super star Max Mpka. He added 22points – blocks and rebounds to his shutdown of Peco’s quick guards. “It was a good team defense” explained Gayle. “We alternated between man to man, trapping, and zone to prevent them figuring us out.” Any penetration by the quicker Pecos team was discouraged by Menaul’s big men inside.

When asked about the keys to Menaul Panther success, Gayle explained that this special team was all determined to succeed. “With 70% of the players working to play at the next level, they were willing to sacrifice to learn how to succeed,” said Gayle.

Lindsey R. Gilbert, Jr. and Coach Gayle

Brandon Oloumou said it was the championship banner on the gym wall that inspired him. “Every time we practiced, I’d look up and say I want to put our year up there.”

The core principle and heart of this team was their commitment to be their “brother’s keeper.”

“In my role of Residential Director, I see how we become like family. I extended that to the team. We are family with different personalities, strengths, weaknesses, cultures, and skills.  In a team, we must subjugate individuality to the goal of playing well together. By treating each other like brothers, we support, hold accountable and protect each other on and off the courts. We built thick bonds.”

Coach Gayle

Comments

  1. 1
    Fred David Rusty Finley on March 29, 2022

    Greetings, to the Menaul community, and my utmost congratulations to The 2021-22 edition of the Menaul Panther Boy’s Basketball team on their bracket journey in pursuit of the 2A Championship that they won . . . historical for a traditionally good sports school, that was missing that one final victory. It is an honor for the entire school, specifically the team members, Coach Dan Gayle, and Athletic Director Gary Boatman . . . and an extended recognition of support to the student body, faculty, administration, and the fan base, headed by none other than ever-present Alum Robert ”Coy” Gutierrez and his wife Tillie.

    My name is Fred DAVID ”Rusty” Finley, graduate of the Menaul Class of 1959. I am a proud Alum and former 3-Sport athlete at the school from 1956-59. I have followed Menaul sports for 63 years, PRIMARILY because I have always remained interested and faithful to my Alma Mater, and the impact they had on my learning and developing of discipline and character that has served me well in life and profession. SECONDARILY, as a Menaul Basketball Panther for 3 years in high school, I was proud of my team and indidividual contributions and accomplishments . . . In the Basketball Season of 1958-59, I on two occasions was able to set and individual rebound record that stood some challenges, but never tied — until this year — and has yet to be broken . . . In December of 1958, I got 23 rebounds in an away game against the Cuba Rams, and in January of 1959 I repeated with 23 rebounds in a home game against the Rio Grande Ravens . . . I know of the record because I performed it twice . . . Other individuals that substantiated the record were; Aaron Archuleta, Basketball Manager and Statistician; Larry Trujillo, My School Roommate and Teammate; Dave Tomlinson, Dean of Boys and Basketball Coach; Carlos Salazar, Albuquerque Journal & Tribune Sports Writer; and Meliton Otero, the Head Official of both game . . . unfortunately, all of the aforesaid have passed on. Only two other members of the 1958-59 — Narciso Sandoval and Dan Sandoval — are surviving.

    In all the years that I have followed Menaul Sports –Basketball — only one player prior to this season has come close to my individual game rebounding record of 23 . . . Michael Ou, a recent 3-year star at Menaul, now the number draft choice of the Shanghai Sharks in the Chinese NBA, managed 22 rebounds in a game during his illustrious senior season.

    My hats go off to Maximus Mkpa, a currant Menaul Senior and star basketball player — In the 2A Championship Final against the Pecos Panthers Maximus collected 23 rebounds tieing my record — Again, congrats to the team in winning the State Championship, but I extend a big accolade of honor and respect to Maximus Mkpa for his accomplishment.

    Sincerely,

    Fred DAVID ”Rusty” Finley
    P.O. Box 211061
    Denver, CO 80221-0396
    702-306-2099
    finleadav@yahoo.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.