St. Michael's pays a call on West Las Vegas tonight in the District 2-4A boy's basketball semis, first time the teams have met this season
In 2-6A, runner-up Santa Fe High is home to Albuquerque Sandia Friday night in its semifinals
By ARNIE LESHIN
West Las Vegas, meet the visitors from St. Michael's. You've seen them before on the basketball court, but not this season.
You can blame the two District 2-4A forfeits that you bestowed upon the Horsemen, and just like that 2-0 and 2-0 doesn't make for normal results.
And so tonight at the runner-up Dons' court, the two match-up for the first time in the district semifinals, the winner to play at district champion Las Vegas Robertson in Saturday night's final.
Actually, WLV, St. Michael's and Pojoaque Valley finished in a 4-4 deadlock for second, third and fourth places, with the Dons getting the higher seed due to point differential, the second criteria after head-to-head.
The Horsemen (14-13) come off a 57-53 win over the visiting Elks in the quarterfinals on Wednesday night. Plus, they finally won a close game after three-straight losses by a grand total of six points, and this doesn't include any of the forfeits.
The home team fell behind 16-13 after one quarter, took a 32-29 lead at halftime, increased it to 46-39 after three quarters, and then held off a late threat by Pojoaque when it was outscored 14-11 in the final eight minutes.
A trio of seniors, 5-10 guard Thomas Pacheco, 6-1 forward Luke Archuleta and 6-3 post Adam Tupler accounted for 36 of the Horsemen's points. Pacheco scored 14, Archuleta 12 and Tupler 10.
The key man for West Las Vegas (16-8) is 6-3 senior guard D.J. Bustos, son of the head coach David Bustos, and recently became the state's all-time leading career scorer.
The way the current rankings stand, the Cardinals, the Dons, the Horsemen and the Elks are all projected to make the state tournament. Win or lose in the final, Robertson will still probably receive the highest seed of the four.
Meanwhile, in 2-6A, second place Santa Fe High (17-9) gets to play Albuquerque Sandia (12-14) at home Friday night in the district semifinals.
The winner advances to the Saturday finals at Albuquerque Eldorado (18-6).
The Matadors made it to the semis by defeating last place Albuquerque Manzano at home and second-place Albuquerque La Cueva on the road. Their best player is 6-3 senior forward Tanner Sloan averaging 14 points per game and 8 rebounds. He gets help from 6-4 junior forward Ryan Thompson, with 5-9 senior point guard Aquilar Santiago running the show.
The Demons will replay on their inside game behind 6-2 senior forward Bailey Lozada-Cabbage and 6-6 senior post Everett Robinson. Another key player is 5-11 senior wing David Marquez.
The surprise is that first-year head coach Zack Cole's team is ranked only 12th in the class rankings. But unlike last year when it had to forfeit its state tournament opener at top-seeded Onate, this time Santa Fe High is state tournament bound thanks to Cole's stellar job.
In 2-5A, Albuquerque Del Norte (13-13) is at runner-up Espanola Valley (19-7), with the winner playing for the district title at Capital High (21-5) Friday night.
Last season, the Sundevils and Jaguars played five times, with Espanola's late comeback bringing it the state championship after the Sundevils also won a playoff for first place over the regular season. This time, it was Capital coming out ahead in the playoff again at Los Alamos.
Except the Knights might have something to say this time.