Santa Fe High girls sneak into state 6A basketball tournament with long ride to Hobbs Friday night, while 4A St. Michael's plays rival Las Vegas Robertson
Santa Fe Indian School travels to Shiprock in 4A, Pecos home to Loving in 3A, Espanola Valley hosts Aztec in 5A
By ARNIE LESHIN
Santa Fe High's girls are happy to make into the state tournament in 6A, but the long ride to Hobbs isn't something to look forward to, and especially against no doubt the top team in the state at Ralph Tasker Arena, an intimidating site.
Given the final seed, No. 16, the Demonettes (11-16) are meeting up Friday night with a red-hot Hobbs team that is 25-2, has won 13 in a row, and swept three-straight games over previously undefeated district rival Carlsabad. This came after the teams met for the first time and the Cavemen won at home.
But the next time they played, Hobbs won at home to force a playoff for first place, won the next night at Mayfield's neutral court, and again in the final of the district tournament at home.
Doesn't look good for Santa Fe High, but it was nice to at least make the field. If a miracle occurs, it would next take on the winner of 8th seeded Rio Rancho (17-11) and 9th seeded Volcano Vista (16-10).
In 4A, St. Michael's (13-14) comes in as the 14th seed, but doesn't have to travel far as it heads to 3rd seeded district foe Las Vegas Robertson (20-6), who it split with during the regular season, winning 46-42 at home to snap the Cardinals' 9-game win streak, then lost 50-44 on the road.
It's been an up-and-down campaign for the Horsemen, losing some tight games while playing tough defense. In the district semifinal at second-place West Las Vegas, they lost, and the Dons went on to win the district tournament at the Cards.
Before that, Robertson also lost to district opponent Pojoaque Valley, so it is probably anxious to get back in the win column. It also realizes that St. Michael's has given it problems and will it not be overconfident.
And the winner faces 11th-seeded Socorro (16-12) at WLV (20-8), the fifth seed, so it could be a district match-up in the quarterfinals at the WisePies Arena, alias the Pit.
Also in 4A, Santa Fe Indian School (16-10) enters as the 10th seed and hits the road for Shiprock (22-5), the 2nd seed. Shiprock has won seven in a row and went 4-1 against out-of-state schools.
Then there is 13th seeded Pojoaque (12-14) at 4th seeded Portales (16-10), while 16th seed Taos (12-15) has the tough task of playing at top-seed Albuquerque Hope Christian (25-2), which has won 13-straight.
That's all five 2-4A schools making it to state. The Braves play in 5-4A, where it lost the district tournament final to first-place Sandia Prep (17-9).
In 5A, district champion Espanola Valley (19-6) is seeded third and is home to 14th seed Aztec (15-13). The Sundevils turned in a 50-36 win over Aztec in the Al Armendariz Invitation they won at Capital High.
The Sundevils wrapped up the district tournament title by handing second-place Albuquerque Academy (19-7) a 46-31 setback, the second time in a row to race to the finish with a big fourth quarter, outscoring the Chargers, 22-9. In the previous contest for the top spot, it was 20-2 over those final eight minutes.
In the state quarterfinals last year, Espanola lost by 20 points to Gallup, which is the 11th seed with a 13-14 record, and plays at No. 6 Albuquerque St. Pius X (19-9), with the survivor playing the Espanola-Aztec winner in the quarters at the Pit.
"I'd like to bring this team a first state championship," said head coach Cindy Roybal, who won state back-to-back when coaching Indian School.
In 3A, Pecos (19-7) has won eight in a row, is seeded seventh and hosts 10th seed Loving (15-13).
Loving finished third in a tough district that includes top-seed Eunice (24-3) and 4th seeded Tularosa (20-6), which lost in last year's state final to Texico, now the 2nd seed at 19-7 and home to 15th seed Raton (14-12), which lost to Pecos in the district final.
So Loving can not be taken lightly. Five of its defeats came to Eunice and Tularosa, and it had a tight 46-43 setback versus 5A Academy. Eunice, meanwhile, has won 15 straight.
The Pecos-Loving winner meets up with the Texico-Raton winner in the quarterfinals at Rio Rancho's Santa Ana Star Center.
In 2A where former Santa Fe High head coach Elmer Chavez now has the same role at 4th seeded Mescalero Apache 23-6), his Chiefs are home to 13th seeded district rival Pine Hill (16-7).
Tatum (22-5) is the top seed in 2A, where the opening round winners advance to the quarters at Bernalillo High School.
Other winning streaks have 6A West Mesa (24-1) with 22; 3A Laguna-Acoma (23-5) with 16; 3A Tohatchi (22-5) with 13; and 4A Silver (20-5) and 5A Los Lunas (20-7) with 11 each.
All the girl's first rounders will be played Friday.