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West Las Vegas girls win in Friday’s first round of the state basketball tournament

West Las Vegas girls the only visiting team to win in Friday’s first round of the state basketball tournament, ending the season for the defending state 4A champion Albuquerque Hope Christian
The 8th seeded Dons in today’s semifinals against No. 1 seed Portales, while 6th seed Santa Fe Indian School takes on 3rd seed Moriarty riding a 13-game winning streak

By Arnie Leshin 
Arnie Leshin

They didn’t win an Oscar and they didn’t cash in a lottery ticket, but the West Las Vegas girl’s basketball team did something in Friday night’s first round of the state basketball tournament that no one else did.

The 9th seeded Dons, one of the five District 2-4A teams to get an invite to the tourney, took to the road and brought back a victory while every other visiting team departed with defeats. Thirty two games from 3A-6A and only West Las Vegas could celebrate the ride home.

Not only did the Dons win, but they did it on the home floor of the defending state-champion Hope Christian, which entered as the 8th seed despite a 13-15 record. Worse, the Huskies added a final setback when their home crowd watched West Las Vegas (16-10) turn in a 59-49 win.

Hope always plays a tough schedule, and this team did the same with a rather young lineup that brought back only one starter from last season.

“We had confidence,” head coach Jose Medina, now in his 17th year with WLV. “We got away to a good start and quieted the big crowd at a small gym, and all of my girls contributed. Every time they would make a run, we responded, and won going away, like in an away game.”

This set up another trip south for the Dons, but it will be on the neutral court of the Dreamstyle Arena at the University of New Mexico There, they have another tough task when they meet up with top-seeded Portales (25-2) in a contest scheduled today for 11:30 a.m.

It’s the quarterfinals for the girls, with the boys playing Wednesday in their quarters. For the girls of 4A and 5A, they get to come down the ramp of the pit while the 3A and 6A have to settle for the Rio Rancho Santa Ana Star Center.

Santa Fe Indian School comes in as the 6th seed, and on a 13-game win streak as they match up again with 3rd seeded Moriarty (25-4), which it defeated back on Feb. 9, 55-38, in a non district game on the Pintos’ home floor.

“I believe we’re playing better with each game,” said Braves’ head coach Christie Abeyta, “but I know that Moriarty didn’t forget the game we won at their place, so we will have to play well again.”

Also in 4A, 2nd seeded Robertson (25-3), which was District 2 champion, goes against district runner-up Pojoaque Valley (22-5), the 7th seed, and who have already lost three times to the Cardinals. The other two District 2 schools, St. Michael’s and Taos, have already been ousted.

The remaining 4A contest sends 5th seeded Silver (24-4) against 4th seeded Shiprock (19-9).

Pecos is the 8th seed in 3A and takes a 24-4 record to top-seeded Texico (23-4), where 3A plays at the Rio Rancho Ana Star Center. At the same site is 6A where Santa Fe High wasn’t invited after losing its last 11 games and having first-year head coach Cindy Roybal resign the day after the regular season ended.

This should be a scramble to come out on top. There’s top-seed Albuquerque Cibola (25-4). 2nd seeded Hobbs (27-2), 4th seed Carlsbad (25-5), 5th seeded Albuquerque Las Cruces (25-4), and 3rd seeded West Mesa (24-2), plus there’s not a single weak team among the eight remaining in 6A.

In 5A, there are some surprises, namely 11th seeded Miyamura (14-15). The top seed is Los Lunas (26-2), which takes on another surprise in 8th seeded Alamagordo (16-12).

The 4A semis will be played at the Dreamstyle Arena Thursday starting at 8 a.m. Same with 5A and 6A. At Santa Ana Star Casino will be 3A and 2A
will take the court at Bernalillo, both slated to start at 11:30 a.m.

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