By Arnie Leshin
The recent six-way tie of boy’s basketball in District 5-5A has been sliced in half.
As they head down the stretch, Santa Fe High, Albuquerque Manzano and Albuquerque High are all at 3-2. Wednesday night, the Demons (16-5) rolled over visiting Albuquerque Rio Grande (6-12) 89-65, the rejuvenated, visiting Bulldogs (6-13) clawed Albuquerque Sandia (8-11), 72-66, and Manzano (11-8) took to the road to get past Capital (15-6), 52-49.
Each school has five regular season games remaining. Friday night, Santa Fe High heads to an Albuquerque High team that lost its first seven games, and Capital plays at Rio Grande. And Sandia is at Manzano.
From there, the Demons are home to Sandia, at Manzano, home to the Jaguars, and then hit the road for Rio Grande. Capital follows at Manzano, at home against the Bulldogs, at Sandia, and winds up at Santa Fe High.
Three of Santa Fe High and Capital’s remaining contests are on the road.
Record-wise, the Demons are in the best shape to get an invite for the state tournament. Then comes the Jags and Manzano. Albuquerque High and Rio Grande will have to win district to sneak into state, and Sandia could be on the bubble unless it wins district.
The Santa Fe High contest at Albuquerque High will be broadcast by Pro/View Networks, and will be aired live on local television by CW My50 that covers most of the state.
There are 27 schools in 5A. Only seven are at .500 or below. Sixteen qualify for the state tournament.
Capital lost another close one. After a 14-14 first quarter deadlock, it went in front, 24-23, at halftime, increased it to 39-34 after three quarters, but were outscored 18-10 in the final eight minutes.
Still outsized due to knee injuries to their tallest players, Santa Fe High depended on its outside shooting. Its school-record 16 3-pointers (unofficially the sixth-best in state history). Inside the arch, it tossed in 15 baskets.
This easily offset Rio Grande’s advantage at the free throw line, as it converted a woe some 9-of-32 charity tosses. The Demons went to the line only 15 times.