By Arnie Leshin
Wednesday night‘s impressive win over visiting Capital has Santa Fe High winning District 5-5A and earning an automatic berth in the state tournament that bounces in Monday.
Saturday night, the Demons will hear their seeding via the NMAA announcement, that will be after dominating visiting Albuquerque Rio Grande Friday night. That’s a done deal. Rio Grande is winless in nine starts, both overall and in district. Its previous home game versus Santa Fe High was a blow out, and its closest loss was by 10 points against Albuquerque Manzano, the second-worst team in the district.
Thus, the Demons will be 9-3 overall and 8-2 in district, plus they have the points edge over Los Lunas, which is now 9-2 overall and 7-2 in district after Wednesday night‘s non-district win over Belen. So the Tigers need to play district rival Albuquerque High (5-3, 5-3) at home Friday and have a non-district contest against Valencia Saturday. But even if they finish 13-2 overall, it doesn’t matter. The district title belongs to Santa Fe High following the 58-43 win over the Jaguars, which will probably wind up Capital’s campaign at 5-3 overall and in district.
As for Los Lunas, it still has a shot at gaining an at-large berth, but it’s also questionable with the shortened state tournament schedule this coronavirus pandemic season and only half of the usual teams to be chosen. That’s the way it stands in each class, with St. Michael’s boys, second in District 2-3A, having an at-large chance after defeating visiting Raton in overtime Wednesday nightand finishing behind undefeated Robertson.
The winner of tonight’s Albuquerque Menual versus Monte del Sol at Christian Life boys game will claim the 2-2A title and receive an automatic berth into the state tournament.
Pecos’ boys, with four-straight state championships behind them, are now a surprising 8-2 overall, are home to first place Texico in 6-2A Thursday, and will again probably gain the state tournament win or lose. Overall, Pecos in 11th in all groups, with 5A Rio Rancho Cleveland at 9-1 and on top of the heap. Robertson (10-0) is third and St. Michael’s 13th at 7-2.
As for Santa Fe High and Los Lunas, they split the two games, but the point differential belongs to the Demons after winning by 20 at home and losing by 16 at the Tigers. As for Capital, it stayed close for the first half, trailed by nine, but then the Demons, led by 17 points from senior guard Cruz Martinez and a late run by senior guard Cody Garcia, who tossed in three-straight 3s in a 11-2 run and finished with 10 points, while senior forward P.J. Lovato added 15.
Up by one after one quarter, Santa Fe High soared to a 13-point advantage in the third quarter and upped it to 23 at the final buzzer. Capital picked up a team-high 15 points from Izayah Serrano, but only three teams will get at-large bids in 5A, which sends the Jags packing their gear for spring sports.