By Arnie Leshin
Eight versus nine at the higher seed didn’t stop the visitors from winning three of the five times in Friday night‘s opening round of the girls state basketball tournament.
This almost always brings interesting, tight games due to the fact that both of these seeds are thisclose,
So it might not be all that surprising that in 2A at No. 8 Escalante (17-10) was defeated by No. 9 Rehoboth Christian, 45-43, in contest that went down to the final buzzer and the visitors moved on at 18-10.
Then there was 3A where No. 8 Laguna-Acuma (21-7) welcomed No. 9 Tucumcari (17-11) and then saw its season end when the visitors left with a commanding 58-39 victory.
And in 4A, it was a brutal back-and-fourth game at No. 8 Espanola Valley (19-10) that went to No. 9 Bloomfield (15-13), with a final score of 48-44 after 11 lead changes and 11 ties.
The two 8th seeds that did advance was Carlsbad (22-6) in 5A over the No. 9 visitors from Albuquerque Cibola (18-8), 33-29, and in 1A, it was no contest and home sweet home for No. 8 Tatum in a resounding 69-43 domination of No. 9 Cimarron. 11
Elsewhere, all the top seeds made it to the quarterfinals, Logan in 1A, Penasco in 2A, Navajo Prep in 3A, Los Lunas in 4A, and Hobbs in 5A. So did the second seeds, Logan in 1A, Mescalero Apache in 2A, Tularosa in 3A, Kirtland Central in 4A, and Piedra Vista in 5A.
There was a surprise in 2A when 6th seeded Texico (13-11) exited after losing to district rival Clayton, the 11th seed who lost twice during the regular season to the Wolverines, but prevailed this time, 41-37, and moved to the quarterfinals at 16-13. Texico became 7-2A champion in the regular season and the district tournament by turning back defending champion Pecos back to back.
But the Panthers (21-6), also last year’s state champions for the first time, played at home as the 7th seed and sent No. 10 Alamo Navajo (15-11) away with a 57-36 triumph.
In 3A, only 13th seeded St. Michael’s lost, while the other entries from District 2 all emerged victorious, that being defending state champion Robertson (14-14), the 10th seed, upset No. 7 Socorro (21-8) on the road 54-38, No. 6 Santa Fe Indian School (21-7) won a close one, 51-45, over 11h seeded Thoreau (14-15), and at No. 4 West Las Vegas (20-8) is where St. Michael’s season ended at 13-15 with a 52-31 setback, its fourth this season against the Dons.
In 4A, there were two other surprises along with the one at Espanola. No. 11 Grants (17-12) ousted No.
6 Bernalillo (20-7), 39-36, and No. 10 Gallup (19-9) eliminated No. 7 Silver (18-9) in a tight 52-50 final.
In 5A, No. 10 Farmington (18-10) traveled to 7th seeded Albuquerque Sandia (21-5), the District 5 champion, and left with a convincing 67-55 victory.
One surprise in 1A when 11th seeded Clovis Christian turned in a 27-26 squeaker at 6th seeded Gateway Christian.