ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Selection Sunday produced the usual volume of the expected and unexpected.
Expected: Eldorado's boys and girls locking down No. 1 seeds in Class 5A.
Unexpected: the Manzano boys, who got a No. 4 seed – behind No. 3 Valley. The Monarchs had a better record (22-7 to 19-9), plus two wins against Eldorado and a head-to-head victory over the Vikings.
Valley went 9-5 against the teams in the 5A playoff field. Manzano went 11-4.
The major difference? While both won their district tournaments, Valley was a regular-season champion. Manzano was not.
"I was disappointed. I don't understand the Valley thing at all," Manzano coach Travis Julian said. "I want an answer on that sometime."
There are big-picture ramifications. Manzano finds itself in the same half of the bracket as both Eldorado and defending state champion La Cueva. The Bears earned the No. 5 and would be seeded to play the Monarchs in the quarterfinals.
Valley's half includes Mayfield (2) and Clovis (6), as well as seventh-seeded Highland. But as Vikings coach Joe Coleman points out, seeds are relatively meaningless. Valley was a No. 6 last year and was upset at home in the first round by No. 11 Oñate.
Besides that, the Vikings' first-round opponent – 14 seed Rio Rancho – is a dangerous floater in this tournament.
Julian knows how fragile the whole process is, too. His team was the No. 1 seed last year, but was taken out in the quarterfinals by ninth-seeded Eldorado.
"We won't play the victim's card," Julian said.
The 5A selection committee took the top three regular-season teams from each of the five districts. Rio Grande was the only fourth-place team to get an invite, and the Ravens – who beat both Eldorado and Valley during the regular season – were given a hefty No. 9 seed.
Their reward? A road game at Hobbs.
"They did give us some respect," said Rio Grande first-year coach Sean Jimenez, "but now we have to go down and play in New Mexico's basketball mecca."
That would be Tasker Arena. Ironically, Jimenez's father, Fidel, played for legendary Eagles coach Ralph Tasker in the early 1960s.
Incidentally, if Rio Grande beats Hobbs, the Ravens are likely to play Eldorado again. Rio Grande beat its district rival in overtime 10 days ago.
The Eagles open with 10-17 Las Cruces.
The perpetually under-the-radar Trojans (23-4) open against Albuquerque High, the No. 15 seed.
Roswell was a no-brainer No. 1 seed in 4A boys, as the Coyotes are undefeated against New Mexico. Hope Christian is No. 1 in 3A, followed by rival Sandia Prep.