By Arnie Leshin
They must have a chip on their shoulder in Las Cruces. Their boy’s basketball team has been perfect, perfecto in any language. They have won all their 28 games, and are the lone team in the state undefeated as the state tournament bounces in this weekend. The girls take the floor Friday, the boys Saturday, and Las Cruces’ boys can hardly wait to impress their fans again.
They’ve been packing the gymnasium all season, and Saturday night’s contest might force them to turn many of the fans away. The reason is the opponent, which is Onate, which is also from Las Cruces and that means it will be a crowded, noisy night. It’s the number 2 team in 5A, Onate is number 15.
Now that’s what brings the fans with the chip on their shoulder, why is the lone unbeaten team in the state not No. 1? It also annoys Onate. Which is 18-11and having a down year. Only two years ago, it lost in overtime in the quarterfinals, and would love to stack up against No. 1.
Except that No. 1 is in Albuquerque wearing the colors of Volcano Vista, which is 21-4. It will entertain 16th seed Carlsbad (15-13), which makes the lone trip.
But these games will be played just like in 2A, where Newcomb (26-2) has been a-top the leader’s board most of the season and on a 13-game win streak. But it had to step aside for Pecos, which has been either one or two in the rankings, and has won back-to-back 3A state championships. Now hoping to add the 2A title, the Panthers are 23-3 and have won an even dozen in a row.
Meanwhile, Newcomb also had to settle for the 3rdseed when Santa Rosa (18-8), now in the new District 7-2A with Pecos and Texico and Clayton. So the Lions draw 15th seed Jal (16-13) and Newcomb is home to welcome 14th seed Tse’ Ti’ Gal (17-8). These schools have to realize that the seeding and brackets are drawn up by the New Mexico Activities Association, the governing body in the state’s athletics. So if the fans, players and coaches have a beef, they can take it out on the Association as it announces the field, that being this past Sunday night.
No other gripes, and sitting on top of the heap arethe 4A Los Lunas boys and girls. Both are chili-hot, the girls at 24-3 with the same record as Kirtland Central and streaking. Los Lunas has won its last 20 and KC its last 15. The Los Lunas boys stand alone in the top spot at 24-3 and have won their last 15. Now think about it, both teams sport the same record and both are having fun by continuing to win.
In girl’s 2A, defending state champion Texico has been knocked down from first place by Penasco, which has a 15-game win skein going, two better than the Wolverines, who are 22-3 while the Panthers are 24-3. The other Panthers are Pecos, the 5th seed, at 19-6 and in Texico’s district.
Also in District 2 of 4A, there’s a first round clash matching district foes Espanola Valley (15-11) at Pojoaque Valley (23-4). Both previous games were tight, with the Elkettes coming in as the 4th seed and the Sundevils No. 13 only because they finished behind runner-up Los Alamos, which is 12-14 and seeded 12th.
In 5A girls, 2nd seed Piedra Vista (24-3) has done a number on 4th seed West Mesa (24-3), with all three losses against PV. Above the two is Hobbs (26-2), but the team streaking the most is 5th seed Mayfield (23-5), which has reeled off 14 straight wins. Two spots below is Albuquerque Sandia (19-6) having won its last 11.