By Arnie Leshin
All that the St. Michael’s boys can do now is wait for the Sunday state basketball announcements by the New Mexico Activities Association.
The Horsemen would have felt better if they had defeated visiting West Las Vegas in Friday night‘s playoff game to decide first place in District 2-3A. But they didn’t, and before a packed house at Perez-Shelley Memorial gymnasium, the Dons prevailed 65-57 in two overtimes after the district 3-way first place tie had them play the St. Michael’s-Robertson winner, and they handled it well by topping their cross town rivals and setting their sights on the Horsemen.
Now comes the final state 3A rankings, and the recent one will not be the same as the updated one on Sunday. There will be changes. Robertson will probably fall from being top-ranked, same with St. Michael’s present No.3 spot. Moving up figures to be No. 6 West Las Vegas, that is if the NMAA decides to give district tournament winners a boost. The Cardinals are 21-6, the Dons 20-9, the Horsemen 18-10. And down in No. 8 is another District team, Santa Fe Indian School, which lost to Hot Springs in last year’s state final, but graduations cost it and it is now 16-12.
The district’s Raton (14-14) might even slip into the 16-school field unless it slides down from its present No. 13 ranking. But if the Tigers make it, it will bring their district four entries.
In Friday’s game at St. Michael’s, the Horsemen built a 15-point lead in the first half and stayed in front before the visitors took their first lead late in the third quarter. It was a combination of three things, St. Michael’s had three starters in foul trouble, no longer finding the range, and the comeback of the Dons.
As for the personals, senior Devin Flores picked up his fifth in regulation, as did Derek Martinez, and in OT, it was sophomore Lucas Coriz heading to the bench. Coriz, especially, was a huge loss after scoring a team-high 18 points, bringing down 11 rebounds and blocking two shots.
In the fourth quarter there were six lead changes, and when the Horsemen were playing well again, a 12-1 run brought them a 50-40 lead with three minutes left in regulation. But after West Las Vegas forced the overtime behind Carlos Arellano, who scored 20 of his game-high 22 points in the second half, as well as scoring the first five points of OT, but St. Michael’s could only respond with a 3 from senior Rico Gurule, and four free throws. Meanwhile Arellano, who took over and scored 14 coming points in the double overtime.
In 2A, three-time defending state champion Pecos (24-1) will no doubt get the No. 1 seed, even with Magdalena at 25-0 and the lone unbeaten team in the state. In 4A, it figures to be Los Lunas (27-4) on top of the heap, but No. 2 Albuquerque Hope Christian lost handily Friday night to visiting Albuquerque Highland (16-11), and that could drop the Huskies but who will probably stay ahead of Highland.
In 5A, Santa Fe High and Capital met for the sixth time this season at Toby Roybal Memorial gym Saturday night in a playoff for first place in District 5, and currently the Demons (22-4) are ranked higher than their cross town rival Jaguars (24-4), but a lot depends on tonight’s clash, again, that is on how the NMAA will credit district tournament champions. But the top seeds could be defending champion Albuquerque Atrisco Heritage (22-7), Albuquerque Volcano VIsta (23-5) and Rio Rancho Cleveland (26-7).
As for the girls, Penasco (25-2) will be the top seed in 2A, with defending state champion Pecos (20-7) hoping to be in the top five. In 3A, Navajo Prep (22-2) has been impressive all season and will be the top seed. In 4A, it’s Los Lunas joining its boys as the No. 1 seed with a 22-4 record. Right behind could be Kirtland Central (20-5), and in 5A it’s Piedra Vista (24-3) and once-beaten Hobbs, now at 24-1, and with Albuquerque La Cueva and Volcano Vista right up there.
So on Sunday, there will be quite a lot of coaches, players, and team supporters checking out the announcements.