By Arnie Leshin
The Pecos boys won their fifth straight District 7-2A title and are now in quest of a fourth in a row state championship by disposing of second place Santa Rosa for the third time via Saturday night‘s victory at the Panthers’ court.
It put Pecos at 25-1 overall, 6-0 in regular season district play, and have now won 22 straight, and should again by the No. 1 seed in 2A of the upcoming state tournament. It was Santa Rosa that lost in the first title game won by the Panthers, and should get a quality seed for the state tournament after going an impressive 20-8.
The two other wins over the Lions were not close, and neither was this one.
It was in the second quarter that Ira Harge, Jr’s team put the game out of reach, outscoring the visitors 26-9 and building it into a 42-18 lead at halftime. On defense, Pecos did not allow a double-digit quarter until the final one, as well as forcing 30 turnovers.
Senior Xavier Padilla scored 14 points in that second quarter, and finished with the game-high 22 points. Then came senior Ismael Villegas with 11 of his 13 points coming in the second half. Then there was senior Anthony Armijo adding a dozen points, with 10 coming in the opening quarter.
The Panthers, 83-7 in winning three state championships, are now 107-8 in this fourth year, with the lone loss to 5A Santa Fe High by 8 points, but they’ve also won the Stu Clark tournament played at New Mexico Highlands University, and the Northern New Mexico Rio Grande tournament at Pojoaque Valley, the only tourney that Pecos played among the small schools.
In the previous two games versus the Lions, the Panthers triumphed 60-41 at Santa Rosa and 69-35 at home.
In other district tournament finals, second place Taos, which had two previous close games against district winner Espanola Valley, won this time, 49-47, in the 2-4A district tournament final played at the Sundevils court.
And Magdalena, the only unbeaten team in the state, advanced to 25-0 rolling over Estancia, 75-26, to win its district tournament. In another district tournament final, runner-up Albuquerque Bosque School surprised district winner Albuquerque Sandia Prep,
63-52, to claim the tourney title.
In girls games, defending state champion Pecos lost twice to Texico, this time 56-43 in the 7-2A district final at Texico, which is 13-10 with a good stretch run, while the Panthers head for state at 21-7.
In Albuquerque, district winner Sandia also won the 5-5A district tournament by overwhelming Manzano, 49-25.
In the 2-2A district tournament final played at district winner Espanola McCurdy, it was a 51-33 loss for second-place Academy of
Technology and The Classics.
And down south at Mescalero Apache, the state runner-up last season, captured its 2A district tournament title, 59-43, as Elmer Chavez’ girls were also regular season champions. Chavez coached Santa Fe High’s girls to the 2014 state 4A championship.