By Arnie Leshin
Another challenge for 2A Pecos’ boys basketball team when 5A Clovis visits the Louis J. Sanchez Memorial gymnasium Friday night.
The opening tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 as the Panthers continue to play their schedule, one that has already had them playing 3A, 4A, 5A schools before district play that they hope leads them in quest of a fourth straight state championship.
But the Wildcats will be tough to handle. They arrive with a 14-5 overall record, losing a one-point hectic opener at home to previously undefeated RIo Rancho Cleveland, and splitting a pair of games with Albuquerque Volcano Vista, which defeated the Storm Tuesday night.
Their schedule also brought them to a non district contest at 5A Santa Fe High, where they lost by 10 points.
They come out of a district that has three quality opponents in Roswell, Carlsbad and Hobbs, all with plus records, and they just turned back non district opponent Goddard for the second time.
Like most other opponents they look up to because of their overall lack of height, the Panthers of head coach Ira Harge, Jr., have 6-foot-3 senior Ismael Villegas, their second leading scorer behind 6-1 senior Xavier Padilla, and these two are the one-two punch in their fourth year on the varsity, and that including rebounding.
But Clovis has a 6-6 senior Byrce Cabeldue, and he weights in at 245 pounds, is tough inside and leads his team in scrubbing the boards. Senior point guard Dwyayne Dawson, at 6-feet, runs the offense and is its second leading scorer and tops in assists and steals.
Senior Anthony Armijo operates the Pecos offense, is its third leading scorer, dishes the passes, and could hurt you on defense with his quickness.
The sight of yet another big school doesn’t bother the Panthers, who have already disposed of 4A Bernalillo in the Stu Clark tournament final, as well as victories over 4A schools Pojoaque Valley, and Kirtland Central.
They have played in two tournaments that included 3A, 4A and 5A schools, which is where they lost to Santa Fe High by eight points in the semifinals of the Al Armendariz tournament played at Capital, but won the championship versus the small schools in the Northern New Mexico Rio Grande tournament.
A full house is expected again at small-town Pecos to check out the latest challenge presented to the Panthers.
#33 Ethan Gershon, small forward, 6-1 senior, 11.1 scoring avg.
#3 Malik Phillips, shooting guard, 5-11 senior.
#34 Bryce Cabelsue, center, 6-6 senior, 18.4 scoring avg.
#4 Dewayne Dawson, point guard, 6-0 senior, 16.2 scoring avg.
#12 Blake Muscato, shooting-point guard, 5-10 junior.
#30 Mason Figueroa, forward, 6-1 junior.
#10 Josiah Lambrana, point guard, 5-10 senior.
#11 Darion Morgan, small forward, 6-3 senior.
#24 Jaylen Hyman, shooting guard-point guard, 5-10 senior.
#21 Xavier Padilla, forward, 6-1 senior, 18.3 scoring avg.
#40 Ismael Villegas, center, 6-3 senior, 16.9 scoring avg.
#14 Anthony Armijo, point guard, 5-9 senior, 10.4 scoring avg.
#22 Devin Gonzales, guard, 5-9 senior.
#32 Juan Varela, forward, 6-1 senior.
#23 Rolando Sandoval, small forward, 6-0 junior.
#20 Keith Flores, forward, 5-10 senior.
#24 Christian Tanuz, forward, 5-10 senior.
#44 Jacob Sandoval, center, 6-1 senior.
#13 Jodaiah Padilla, guard, 5-9 freshman.
#01 Willie Trujillo, shooting guard, 5-9 junior.
#45 Isaiah Sandoval, power forward, 6-0 sophomore.
#10 Aaron Ortiz, guard, 5-7 senior.