Capital High boys, 2nd seed in 5A, gains the quarterfinals of the state basketball tournament by turning away visiting Gallup Saturday night
Top seed in 3A, Pecos won its 26th in a row to advance, as does St. Michael's in 4A, but in 6A Santa Fe High loses
By ARNIE LESHIN
The Capital High boy's basketball fans piled out of their Michael Marr gymnasium Saturday night with smiles on their faces. Not just because their 2nd ranked Jaguars won, but also because 4th seeded Espanola Valley lost.
It was a quick exit for the Sundevils (20-9), who defeated Capital in the state 4A finals last season and had already played it four times this campaign. But District 2 rival Albuquerque Del Norte, the 13th seed, came to Espanola for the third time and left with a surprising 63-56 victory.
Prior to this familiar match-up, the 4th place Knights came nearest a win versus the runner-up Sundevils, 51-50, at home. But this time the law of averages worked out for the visitors who evened their record at 14-14.
They led 22-19 at the half, 40-35 after three quarters, and then outscored Espanola 23-21 in the final eight points to chalk up the upset.
Not so for the Jaguars (23-5), who led all the way but had to hold off a late run by 15th seed Gallup (14-16) to secure a 54-38 win.
This put them into Wednesday's state tournament quarterfinals at the WisePies Arena, aka the UNM Pit, against 7th seeded Alamogordo (20-8), which handed visiting 10th seed Albuquerque St. Pius X a 60-50 defeat.
The contest is scheduled for 8 a.m., but Capital head coach Benny Gomez has no objection to that.
"Heck," he said, "we practice early in the morning, at 6 in fact, so we're all accustomed to that time and are ready to go".
As for top-seed Pecos (26-1) in 3A, it rolled along to a 26th straight victory by sending visiting, 16th seed Tucumcari (8-17) away with a resounding 72-46 loss.
Now the streaking Panthers under head coach Ira Harge, Jr. heads for Rio Rancho High Wednesday to face 8th seeded Eunice (15-12), a 51-44 winner over 9th seed Dexter, in the quarters, in a scheduled 7 p.m. start.
In 6A, Santa Fe High wound up at 17-11 with the 54-44 reversal at District 2 opponent Albuquerque Eldorado (20-6), the 4th seed. It was the third time they played, and the third time the Eagles triumphed.
Now they go against 12th seed Albuquerque Volcano Vista (15-12), which surprised district rival Albuquerque Rio Rancho, the defending state champion now dethroned via a 77-74 score.
As for the Demons, it was an impressive season under first-year head coach Zack Cole. They finished second in district, but then lost in the district tournament semifinals at home to fifth place Albuquerque Sandia. This was the closest they came to dealing with the Eagles after previous losses of 66-44 on the road and 58-35 at home.
But the 16th seeded Sandia (13-16) bowed out by losing 52-40 to top seed Onate (23-5). Fifteen seeded Clovis (12-16) of the same district exited with an 88-55 defeat at 2nd seeded Las Cruces (25-4). So only Eldorado from that district survived.
That wasn't the case for District 1. Joining Eldorado into the next round were 3rd seeded Rio Rancho Cleveland (21-7), 6th seeded Albuquerque Cibola (19-8), Las Cruces and Volcano Vista.
Capital, with Espanola out of the way, remains on its mission to win state for the first time since 2003, also under Gomez.
The Jags held Gallup scoreless in the first quarter and led 12-0 before an unhappy usual huge fan support that helped pack the place. Heading into the fourth quarter, Capital was up 40-29, but had a cold spell and Gallup didn't give up and got to within 40-34 with 3:23 to go.
Then senior guard Jeremy Anaya made good on a 1 and 1 from the foul line and senior post Isaiah Brooks made one-of-two to bring a 45-36 advantage with two minutes remaining.
"I thought there were moments," said Gomez, "when we playing lightly, but on the good side we were good from the foul line. We were actually knocking them down tonight."
And he liked his team's guard play behind Anaya and junior Tyler Alarid.
Anaya led a balanced Jaguar attack with the team-high 15 points, while Alarid added 11. Brooks scored only four points but blocked three shots and brought down eight rebounds. The Jaguars were 20-of-30 from the charity stripe, 12-for-15 in the last eight minutes.
In 5A at 3rd seeded Farmington (26-3), 14th seeded Los Alamos (13-15) hung close for three quarters, trailing 28-25 at halftime, but the home team tossed in 35 second-half points (19 in the final quarter) to 15 for the Hilltoppers in a 63-40 win.
In 4A, there was quite a surprise when 11th seeded Moriarty (15-13) headed up to 6th seed Pojoaque Valley and stunned the home crowd with a commanding 66-32 rout to end the Elks' season at 16-13.
But first place Las Vegas Robertson (17-8) and second place West Las Vegas, which turned back the Cardinals in the District 2 tournament finals, won handily, the Cards rolling over visiting 13th seed Albuquerque Sandia Prep (13-15), while the Dons romped over 12th seed Ruidoso 82-50.
Now its again Robertson and WLV, this time in the quarters Wednesday at the Rio Rancho Santa Ana Star Center.
In 2A, top seed Magdalena (28-0) remained the state's lone undefeated team by sending the visitors from 16th seed Cliff home with a 74-39 whooping.
There were several close games that weren't supposed to be. In 5A, top seed Roswell (22-4) had to hold off the challenge of 16th seed Bloomfield before coming away on top 71-65.
Los Lunas (24-5), the 6th seed in 5A, had quite a challenge from visiting 11th seed Grants before coming away on top 50-45.
In 3A, 5th seed Cuba (25-6) had its problems with the visit from 12th seed Laguna-Acoma before squeaking in with a 65-64 win.
Not as much a surprise was 9th seed Kirtland Central's 75-72 win at 8th seed Artesia in 5A.
The highest scoring team of the weekend was 2A 3rd seed Mora, which broke on top 23-11 after one quarter, 46-28 at halftime, and then put together a 57-point second half to rack up a 103-68 rout.
St. Michael's earned a separate story after tipping off around 3 o'clock. The 7th seed broke out to a 26-point halftime lead against visiting 10th seed Wingate, but the Bears (15-13) made a late run to trim the gap to seven before the Horsemen (15-14) held fast down the stretch for a 59-48 win, the closest in 4A.
Now St. Michael's meets up again with 2nd seeded Portales (23-4), which defeated 15th seed Shiprock, 74-57, in the quarter Wednesday at the Santa Ana Star Center, starting time slated for 4:45 p.m.
The Rams won 54-49 over the Horsemen in the round-robin tournament at Shelley-Perez gymnasium. They also defeated top seed and district winner Albuquerque Hope Christian in the district tournament final.