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Except for possible playoff games to settle first place ties, the regular season winds down with defending state champion Pecos’ girls traveling to Texico Friday with the top spot at stake in District 7-2A

By Arnie Leshin 
Arnie Leshin

The road to a second-straight 2A state championship for the Pecos girls basketball team takes them instead to Texico Friday night. Win that one, host the District 7 tournament, win that, and the path will be a berth at state, and hopefully a high seed.

That’s what has transpired after the Panthers, 20-5 overall and 4-1 in district, lost at Clayton and the Wolverines (11-10) turned back Santa Rosa the same night to force a tie for first place. In the previous meeting, Pecos disposed of Texico at home, but this time it’s a long ride to where it’s tough to win. ,
Even after head coach Ron Drake resigned to fill the same role at Academy of Technology and The Classics, the Panthers are still capable of winning state again, but the rest of the small-school field offers a big challenge, especially top-ranked Penasco who defeated them twice, Elmer Chavez’ Mescalero Apache’s team that lost in overtime to the Panthers in last year’s championship game, plus Newcombe. Magdalena and Lordsburg, which recently won over the Chiefs.
Penasco, also known at the Panthers, is 22-2 and tied for first in its district with Escalante, who it has split with. Mescalero Apache is 19-3. Newcomb 20-4, Magdalena and Lordsburg both at 19-5.
District 7 fields only four schools, so it Pecos wins at the Wolverines, it will be tough to get past it if it hosts the district tournament. But first things first and Bryan Gonzales’ girls would prefer a victorious round trip.
In 2-3A and 5-5A, it will be a stretch for the Santa Fe schools St. Michael’s, Santa Fe High and Capital.
But in District 2, Santa Fe Indian School is 5-2, has won six in a row, and is 19-6 overall, which should get it in the state tournament field of 16. The Braves are a half-game behind first place West Las Vegas (15-7, 5-1), who they have split with, and a half-game ahead of Robertson (11-12, 4-2), the defending state champion who will be home to the cross-town rival Dons Friday night, and seeking a return to state.
St. Michael’s (11-12, 2-4) should have to win the district tournament to qualify for state, but nothing is known until the state tournament reveals its final field. The Lady Horsemen have back-to-back home games, playing West Las Vegas Tuesday and Indian School Friday, which finds them right in the mist of the clash for first place, and who will play host to the district tournament final.
As for 5-5A, Albuquerque Sandia (18-4, 8-0), the only team in the district with a winning record, it still has to top Albuquerque High a second time when they play Thursday at the Bulldogs’ court. Albuquerque High is 11-11 overall, 7-1 in district, lost 53-48 previously at Sandia, and has won three straight and seven of its last nine. Sandia’s winning streak is at nine, and a loss Tuesday could bring a one-game playoff for the top spot.
In the same district are Capital (8-15, 3-4) and Santa Fe High (8-15, 0-7), but one would have to win the district tournament to land a spot as state, and that would be quite a stretch. In the two meetings between the the cross-town rivals, both went to the Jags by two points each time.
In 2-2A, Drake’s Phoenix, which has already won a program record 12 times, are 12-8 overall, 4-1 in district, and a game behind Espanola McCurdy, who they will play host to Saturday. In the earlier contest, the Bobcats won by eight points. But first ATC has to play Monte del Sol Tuesday at its former home court up at the road at IAIA.
The Phoenix also have a scheduled date Thursday at home with the combined Desert Academy/Santa Fe Waldorf mix, but after two forfeits already when the Wild Wolves decided not to play against Drake, it figures to be another 2-0 result that has already brought attention from the NMAA. In fact the Association says there will be no more two-school lineups as one team.
That’s welcome news for a rising ATC program now in its seventh season. It’s a young team led by two 8th graders and a freshmen, no seniors, and just enjoys its new look under veteran coach Drake. If Desert-Waldorf doesn’t want to play, so be it, and bring on McCurdy with a chance to force a tie for the top spot won by the Bobcats last year.

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