Santa Fe High heads to district opponent Albuquerque Eldorado in 6A, Capital home to Gallup in 5A, St. Michael's hosts Wingate in 4A, Pecos gets a visit from Tucumcari in 3A
It's all happening in Saturday's first round of state
By ARNIE LESHIN
If Santa Fe High is unhappy with its opening round pairing of the boy's state basketball tournament, Albuquerque schools Volcano Vista and Rio Rancho probably feel the same.
As for Albuquerque La Cueva, Rio Rancho Cleveland, Las Cruces and Clovis, they probably all have mixed feelings.
That's 6A, where Districts 1 and 2 fill more than fill half the field, except that the New Mexico Activities Association doesn't factor this when it puts the brackets together. It plants the seeds no matter which districts they fall into.
In this case, those two districts each got five schools in, and wherever the seeds went, there were no doubt plenty of places for them.
So in Saturday's opening round, the 13th seeded Demons (17-10) find themselves taking another visit to district opponent Albuquerque Eldorado (19-6), the 4th seed that won twice over Santa Fe High in the regular season.
But it's tough to defeat the same team three times, and that's what the Demons are banking on, the law of averages, hustle, shooting, defense and confidence.
That, and District 1's Volcano Vista and Rio Rancho paired together, is not any fault of the NMAA. Neither are the 1 versus 2 games that has 14th seed La Cueva (12-14) playing at 3rd seed Rio Rancho Cleveland (20-7) and 15th seed Clovis (12-15) at 2nd seed Las Cruces (24-4).
Schools from these two districts that did not make the field were Albuquerque Manzano from District 1 and Piedra Vista from District 2.
In 4A, District 2 might have gotten its five schools in if not for Taos having to forfeit all but one of its games due to an ineligible player. This player did not play against St. Michael's and that became the lone Tigers' win.
The 7th seeded Horsemen (14-14) play host to 10th seeded Wingate (15-12) on Saturday night. They have been in so many tight games, they would like to have an easy time for once, except that 7 versus 10 is no easy test and Wingate can not be taken lightly.
Coached by athletic director Al Martinez for the last 11 years after previously coaching the Wingate girls, it has won eight in a row (three over the district's Navajo Prep and twice over Shiprock). It won the district title, but was second in points allowed, in fact giving up more than it scored. The man in the middle is 6-foot-4 senior Pacen Sandoval, and then there's 6-1 senior Treg Kee and junior Leon Alonzo, the team captain.
St. Michael's was only 5-4 at home, but down the stretch, it has been involved in close games home and away. Its last four losses were by nine points. Its last win was by four. Two other times the Horsemen lost by three.
Also in the field from District 2 is regular-season champion Las Vegas Robertson (16-8), the 4th seed, district tournament winner and 5th seed West Las Vegas (18-8), and 6th seeded Pojoaque Valley (16-12). This district was a balanced one all season.
In 5A, Capital High (22-5) turned back defending state champion Espanola Valley (20-8) for the District 2 regular-season and the district tournament championship and is the 2nd seed. It gets a visit from 15th seed Gallup (11-16) in the opening round.
The Sundevils are the 4th seed and gets to host a familiar foe from the same district, Albuquerque Del Norte (13-14), the 13th seed. Then there's Los Alamos (13-14) from the same district getting the 14th seed and traveling to 3rd seeded Farmington (25-3). Only Albuquerque Academy was not chosen.
For the Jags, it's their chance to win a state title that went to Espanola over them in a tense championship game. That's their mission.
In 3A, Pecos (25-1) is on a 25-game win streak. It dominated its district, brings plenty of quickness, can turn it up with its transition game, plays aggressive defense, and has an experienced group under head coach Ira Harge, Jr.
Desert Academy, coached by Ernie Rodriguez, made it in 3A as the 13th seed, and will take a 15-11 record to 4th seeded Dulce (19-6), winner of District 2 and on a 9-game win skein.
But the state's only undefeated team is in 2A, where Magdelena hasn't lost in 27 games and is the top seed.
One hundred and 55 schools in the state, 96 playing in the state tournament.
Note: A look at opening day of state schedule:
6A: (13) Santa Fe High (17-10) at (4) Eldorado (19-6), 5 p.m.
5A: (15) Gallup (11-16) at (3) Capital (22-5), 7 p.m.
(13) Albuquerque Del Norte (13-14) at (4) Espanola Valley (20-8), 7 p.m.
(14) Los Alamos (13-14) at (3) Farmington (25-3), 6 p.m.
4A: (10) Wingate (15-12) at (7) St. Michael's (14-14), 3 p.m.
(11) Moriarty (14-13) at (6) Pojoaque Valley (16-12), 7 p.m.
(12) Ruidoso (15-14) at (5) West Las Vegas (18-8), 5 p.m.
(13) Sandia Prep (13-14) at (4) Robertson (16-8), 6:30 p.m.
3A: (16) Tucumcari (8-16) at (1) Pecos (25-1), 6 p.m.
(13) Desert Academy (15-11) at (4) Dulce (19-6), 6 p.m.
(14) McCurdy (11-16) at (3) Santa Rosa (18-8), 6 p.m.
2A: (14) Navajo Pine (17-9) at (3) Mora (21-6), 3 p.m.
(10) Questa (15-10) at (7) Jal (16-9), 2 p.m.
(9) Dora (15-9) at (8) Escalante (17-11), 4:30 p.m.