By Arnie Leshin
They both deserve a round of applause, Santa Fe High for overcoming the loss of its two tallest injured starters and still climbing to the top of the District 5-5A basketball standings, and cross town rival Capital having to play four times in five days and still gain the district final.
It was nearly a full house Saturday night at Toby Roybal Memorial gymnasium and the Demons prevailed 69-59 as they were again outsized, but with a bye to this district tournament championship game, and full of newfound confidence at 21-7 overall
It was the first time the two schools had met in a district final since Capital’s birth in 1988. It was only the fifth district tourney title for the Demons in 39 years. In 2000, they matched up in the 2-4A semifinals versus Capital.
But now the Jaguars’ problem was having to rise up from fourth place while Albuquerque Manzano was losing to Santa Fe High at the Capital court in a playoff game for the top spot in district.
So while the Jags (21-9) come off back-to-back wins home and away over Manzano, the runner-up Monarchs (14-12) will get the higher seed when the NMAA state tournament field is announced Sunday night. Here, overall records don’t count as much as district finishes.
And so Santa Fe High is hoping for a top eight seed that would bring it a first-round home game. All this after losing 6-foot-6 sophomore Fedonta “JB” White for the rest of the season after a knee injured suffered in the one-point non district loss at Clovis. Two games later, 6-2 junior starter Anthony Sisneros, its next tallest player, suffered the same fate.
Still, the Demons were able to hang around with the rest of their game in tact.