Santa Fe High boy's basketball visits Albuquerque Eldorado tonight with first place on the line in District 2-6A
Both are 4-0 in district, Eagles (13-5) have won six in a row, Santa Fe High (14-6) five straight
By ARNIE LESHIN
Roy Sanchez has not been coaching boy's basketball at Albuquerque Eldorado forever, it only looks that way.
No doubt 22 years is a long time. He has won four state championships, one regional, and four districts. He is assisted by his wife, Yvonne, and presently shares first place in District 2-6A with Santa Fe High.
Tonight, both schools carry 4-0 district records when the Eagles play host to the surprising Demons, who are on a roll under first-year head coach Zack Cole after 10-straight losing seasons.
Long-time coach Sanchez versus Cole? Maybe, but Sanchez doesn't feel that way.
Reached right after practice on Monday, Sanchez said: "This is team against team and we take Santa Fe High very seriously. It has been playing very well, the new coach has brought confidence to the program, and we'd better be at our best for this game."
No bragging for his team, only praise for the Demons.
While the Eagles sport a 13-5 overall record and have won six in a row, Santa Fe High arrives at 14-6 and five consecutive wins.
It had a one-point triumph over Albuquerque Sandia but had easier times in defeating Albuquerque La Cueva, Clovis and Albuquerque Manzano. This streak began with an overtime victory over cross-town rival Capital in non district play.
Eldorado has a veteran group, with two players at 5-foot-10 and 5-11, but the rest 6-feet and over. There's 6-3 senior forward Trenton Gaither, 5-10 senior guard Mykol Lagarde, 6-4 junior forward Tyler Rodgers, 6-2 senior forward Bryce Nelson, and 6-3 senior Tanner Carter, a shooting guard.
Sanchez said his team has balance, size, experience and confidence. But there's no way it will take Santa Fe High lightly.
"I've seen them twice," he said regarding the Demons, "and they play well as a team and get energy from their bench. They also have some quick guards and size."
Size for Santa Fe High starts with 6-6 senior Everett Robinson and 6-1 senior Bailey Lozada-Cabbage. The backcourt is led by 5-10 senior guard Oscar Perez, 5-11 senior wing/guard David Marquez, 5-10 senior guard Johnny Rodriguez, and 6-foot junior wing/guard Victor Salcido, who returns to the lineup after sitting out a one-game suspension against Manzano.
Cole has installed confidence in this group. He has co-captains in Perez and Salcido. And he has a team with the realization that the state tournament awaits it.
No other school in the district is over .500, which makes this game so important, especially since first place is on the line. Eldorado is ranked sixth and Santa Fe High seventh. The Eagles hope to be a rude host and Santa Fe High hopes for a happy ride home.
Also on the boy's schedule tonight, in 2-5A Los Alamos (9-10, 1-1) visits second ranked Capital, which is 16-4 overall and 2-1 in district. Then there's Las Vegas Robertson (11-7, 2-1) playing at Pojoaque Valley (13-7, 2-1), and Espanola Valley (15-4, 2-0) home to Albuquerque Del Norte (10-10, 1-2).
On top of the pack in 6A is Onate (18-2). Right behind at 16-3 is Las Cruces. Hobbs is 16-5, Rio Rancho Cleveland (16-5) and Albuquerque Cibola (14-5).
Leading the 5A rankings is Farmington (17-3), Capital, Goddard Roswell (15-4), Espanola (15-4) and Belen (16-5).
In 4A, there's Portales at 17-2, Silver at 16-4, defending state champion Albuquerque Hope Christian at 16-4 and Pojoaque at 13-7.
West Las Vegas is listed at 14-5, but is just being stubborn in not posting its true record after it had to forfeit four games (two each against Robertson and St. Michael's), and should be 14-9 overall and 2-5 in district.
Then there's 3A, with Pecos at 18-1 and on an 18-game win streak. Trailing at 16-4 is Cuba, and Texico stands at 16-5.
And Santa Fe High is just happy to be playing for something. It deserves the credit it is do and have earned it.