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Capital High and St Mikes Strive to advance

Capital High boys basketball still in quest of second place, St. Michael’s looks to claim the runner-up spot, Santa Fe High can’t move up from fourth place, Jaguars wind down at Albuquerque Academy and home to Los Alamos Saturday, Horsemen take to the road to play West Las Vegas Friday night, Demons play at first place Albuquerque Eldorado Saturday night

By Arnie Leshin 
Arnie Leshin

Despite the mystery of what transpired, it’s apparent that the Capital High boy’s basketball team will be without the services of 6-foot-4 junior starter Matt Smith.

It’s a big loss, for Smith has put in two solid seasons with the Jaguars. He’s been a scorer, a rebounder, and defender. The word is that he was removed from the program after a 56-54 loss Feb. 8 at Albuquerque Del Norte. Who’s decision was it, head coach Benny Gomez or Smith, that’s the mystery.

Espanola Valley has been dominant in District 2-5A and will play host to the district tournament finals. It is 23-1 overall, has won eight in a row and is unbeaten in seven district starts.

Now the question is, who finishes in the other spots? Capital (18-6, 3-3) has lost its last two starts and has fallen into third place in the standings, something that hasn’t been a familiar place for the Jaguars. The loss to Del Norte is why this occurred, and the Knights might be 10-13 overall, but they are 4-2 in district and in second place.

If Capital defeats Los Alamos at home Saturday night and Del Norte loses to Espanola the same night, it would bring a tie for the runner-up spot.

In that scenario, the Jags will still receive a high seed because of their overall record and impressive regular season. But if they come up short of playing host in the opening round of the district tournament, it might be time to hand in their gear.

Capital can not take Los Alamos lightly; neither can the Sundevils in regard to Del Norte. The first time the Jaguars faced the Hilltoppers, they escaped with a 64-58 road victory. Same with Espanola’s 10-point win over the Knights in their first meeting, except the Sundevils now get to play on their home court.

In 2-4A, St. Michael’s can wrap up second place with a win Friday night at West Las Vegas. In their first meeting, the Horsemen won 50-48 in overtime on their home court. They are now 4-3 in district and 11-14 overall, The Dons are at 13-12 overall, 4-3 in district.

Right behind is Las Vegas Robertson at 3-4 in district and 9-16 overall, while the top spot belongs to Taos, which has won its last five and is 7-1 in district and 16-10 overall. Tuesday night, the Tigers took to the road and left with a resounding 80-70 win over Robertson. In the cellar is Pojoaque Valley at 6-18 overall and 0-7 in district.

Taking second place would be a lift for St. Michael’s in what has been an up and down campaign. No doubt, it would like to play host to the district semifinals. It lost twice to Taos in two overtimes, and the Tigers will be hosting the district tournament final.

Santa Fe High’s bid to finish high for the District 2-6A tournament, but Tuesday night’s 79-65 loss at Albuquerque Manzano left the Demons in fourth place at 4-5 and at 12-13 overall. They finish district Saturday night at first place Albuquerque Eldorado (21-2, 9-0).

In second place is Albuquerque La Cueva, 16-7 overall and 8-2 in district. Right behind is Manzano at 14-9, 6-3. In fifth place at 8-15, 1-9, is Albuquerque Sandia, and alone in the basement is Clovis (8-16, 0-9).

As it looks now, Santa Fe High will play the winner of the opening round Clovis at Sandia contest. That survivor will probably head for Manzano, with La Cueva playing host to the semis and Eldorado awaiting its opponent in the final.

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