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Annual Lady Horsemen Christmas tournament tips off Wednesday with a six-school round robin

Annual Lady Horsemen Christmas tournament tips off Wednesday with a six-school round robin and St. Michael’s the host at Perez-Shelley gym

Field features the Lady Horsemen, Pojoaque Valley, Espanola Valley, Sandia Prep, Cottonwood and Cobre

Arnie Leshin

By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today

How about these round robins? Six teams in the field and two don’t play each other.

It recently happened in the Eddie Pena Holiday Classic played at Grants. Six teams, District 2-5A rivals Capital and Espanola Valley said their hellos and goodbyes, see you, and of course the high-fives, but never met on the basketball court

That will be the case when the annual Lady Horsemen Christmas tournament tips off at St. Michael’s Perez-Shelley gymnasium Wednesday with a new look. It is three days of lining up against a different school, but just like Capital and Espanola, the host Lady Horsemen and Pojoaque Valley will not match-up.

Could it be a coincidence that St. Michael’s and the Elkettes are in the same 4A district just as the Jaguars and the Sundevils are in 5A?

Rounding out the field is four-time tournament champion 5A Espanola Valley,

Albuquerque schools 4A Sandia Prep and 3A Cottonwood Classical Prep, and 4A Cobre, which was the only one to have a pre-tournament test in its loss to 2A Lordsburg last Thursday.

In fact, Bayard Cobre and Lordsburg must be neighbors, the Indians won the previous contest 53-43 back on Dec. 1, and the two play again on Jan. 9 at Cobre.

So with the round robin applied, it doesn’t look like Espanola Valley will win this tournament for the fifth time, all of the previous four under a different head coach, which is what the Sundevils now have with Johnny Abeyta in charge. He previously coached at Santa Fe Indian School.

But he has a rather young team, with his starters usually being 5-foot-8 sophomore forward Dulce Maldonado, 5-3 junior guard Kaylinn Martinez, and 5-3 junior guard Kaylee Chavez, the team’s best shooter. The team is at 4-5, but hopes to get to .500 or better in this tournament.

The Sundevils open against Sandia Prep (1-5) in the opening game at 1 p.m. In the 2:30 contest, it’s Cobre (7-4) taking on Pojoaque (9-1), and in the finale at 4, its host St. Michael’s (4-6) versus Cottonwood Classical (1-4).

Sandia Prep doesn’t have a winning record, but has four upcoming players on varsity the last three years, and they are sophomores Samantha Jeffries and Austin Tackman, and juniors Teresa Tonvio and Emily Sanchez.

The Elkettes are under third-year, and former, head coach Seledan Martinez, and having a stellar early run behind 5-4 junior guard Adrianna Quintana and 5-10 sophomore Ashen Martinez, and a cast of other returnees.

As for Cobre, it needs big games from 5-10 freshman Skkyla Guck, 5-9 junior Daniello Esqueda, and 5-3 senior guard Brianna Cabrera.

The Cottonwood Coyotes are also young. They are playing eight juniors, two sophomores, two freshmen, and one senior.

St. Michael’s has a new head coach in former assistant Martin Esqubel, and have had some close calls both in wins and losses.

The leading scorer and most consistent has been 5-4 sophomore Carissa Padilla, the most experienced in 5-8 senior Jodi Grimley, a strong rebounder in 5-6 senior Sydney Halford, and a swift junior point guard in 5-3 Cia Alvarez, who tossed in 21 points in the last game.

How long it will remain a round robin is unknown, but it’s still a tournament, but one without a first, second, fifth or seventh places.

The Thursday schedule has Cottonwood against Sandia Prep at 1, Pojoaque versus Espanola at 2:30, and St. Michael’s takes on Cobre at four.

On Friday, it is Cobre meeting up with Sandia Prep at 1, Cottonwood facing Pojoaque at 2:30, and Espanola and St. Michael’s in the finale at 4.



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