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Ben Lujan Memorial Invitational Basketball Tournament

New Pojoaque Valley Athletic Director Kevin Garcia looking forward to his initial Ben Lujan Memorial Invitational basketball tournament

Field at Pojoaque Valley includes two undefeated teams, West Las Vegas girls and Bernalillo boys, and Pecos’ defending state 3A boys champions

Arnie Leshin

By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today

The annual Ben Lujan Memorial Invitational basketball tournament has never lost stride, bouncing in again Thursday at Pojoaque Valley with eight girls and eight boy’s schools.

But for the school’s new athletic director, Kevin Garcia, it’s a first, and he’s apparently looking forward to it.

“I am doing my best to carry on the great tradition of this tournament,” he said.

The girls tipped off this tournament in 1991, so it’s their 26th annual. For the boys, it’s the 18th annual, having begun in 1999. And this current edition continues bringing in some noteworthy match-ups.

There are two undefeated teams, West Las Vegas (4-0) among the girls, and Bernalillo (5-0) among the boys. The host Elkettes are away to a good start at 6-1, while Penasco’s girls come in at 7-1. The Elks have begun 0-2 and seek their first win on their home court. The Espanola McCurdy boys have won four of five.

As for the Bobcats, they can expect a tough test when they face defending state 3A champion Pecos in the boy’s 10:30 opener. The Panthers are 3-1. Then comes Bernalillo against Mora (2-3) at 1:30 p.m., Santa Fe Indian School (4-3) versus Penasco (2-5) at 4:30 p.m., and host Pojoaque meeting up with Desert Academy (0-4).

The girls tip-off first, with West Las Vegas and McCurdy (3-2) scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Wingate (0-4) faces Penasco at noon, Bernalillo (1-8) follows against Mora (2-5), and Mesa Vista (2-5) concludes versus the host Elkettes at 6 p.m.

The three-day tournament winds up Saturday with the championship games, the third place contests, the quests for fifth place, and the seventh place match-up.

There are six 2A schools, three 3A schools, and seven 4A schools in the tournament. Among the girl’s favorites, there’s West Las Vegas, Penasco and Pojoaque. As for the boys, Pecos will be tough to beat, and Bernalillo could surprise judging by its record.

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