Cross-town rivals Robertson and West Las Vegas girls meet in state basketball tournament for first time in Tuesday night's 4A quarterfinals; played at WisePies Arena, aka UNM Pit, 6:30 pm
Neither has won a state hoops championship, with both District 2 schools appearing in one state final
By ARNIE LESHIN
These Las Vegas cross-town rivals would like nothing better than to take a step forward.
But first, 3rd seeded Robertson and 6th seeded West Las Vegas must get past Tuesday night's 4A match-up, the fourth between the schools this season, in the state tournament quarterfinals at the WisePies Arena. Tip-off is slated for 6:30 and both teams are anxious for this one.
Once, each school has made it to the championship game. In 2001 in 3A, the Cardinals were routed, 55-28, against Portales. In 2010, the Dons lost, 56-50, to Santa Fe Indian School in 3A.
That's it. Now they are in quest of getting past the next two rounds and into the Friday finals. Except that only one can be there, which is why this contest is more important than the previous four between the two.
Robertson (21-6) won the regular season in District 2, but in the tournament final, second place WLV (21-8) prevailed. It was its sixth-straight win and ninth in 10 starts after losing 57-46 at the Cards.
In the two other meetings, the Dons won 40-37 at home and Robertson in the 11-point win at home.
In the opening round last Friday, at West Las Vegas, the Dons finished strong to eliminate 11th seeded Socorro, 65-43. At Robertson, it was a 53-36 victory over 14th seed district opponent St. Michael's.
"It's the Pit, it is Las Vegas," said Cardinals' head coach LeRoy Barela, "it's the state tournament and it's a night when there should be a huge crowd. Whether it's now or in the championship game doesn't matter, to us it is our town's East versus the West."
It's also the first time the girls have met up in the state tournament.
Robertson is young, tall and deep. West Las Vegas has more experience, but not the size, although it has reserves off the bench it can call on.
While the Cardinals of head coach Jose Majic Medina start a 6-2 post in senior Angelica Montoya, a 5-11 junior forward in Alianza Darley, and 5-10 forward Jazmyne Jenkins, the Dons only stretch as tall as 5-7 that includes four different players, but they have the backcourt to maintain the tempo required to survive and advance.
Operating the offense for Medina is 5-7 junior guard Jenna Bustos and 5-4 senior guard Annalysse Lucero. Robertson counters with 5-5 8th grade point guard Maria Barela, the coaches' daughter, and 5-8 freshman guard Tessa Ortiz.
The Cardinals are young and talented, the Dons have more experience and probably more quickness. Both play aggressive defense, hustle for loose balls, bang away underneath, and would like to be the school with the happier ride home.
The one that wins moves into the semifinals Wednesday against the 10th seeded Navajo Prep (16-9), 2nd seeded Shiprock (22-5) victor. Except that no one is looking past the anticipated clash of the Las Vegas rivals.