ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — All 4 Boys Teams Ranked in Top 8
You could find a fairly large swath of high school basketball coaches who would swear — with a straight face — that their team does indeed belong to the toughest district in New Mexico.
The four men who coach boys basketball in District 2-5A are perhaps the one group that doesn’t have to shout that claim.
They’ve got the math to prove theirs is the toughest.
“It’s a good point,” La Cueva coach Frank Castillo said with a laugh. “It’s gonna be crazy.”
For the next three weeks, No. 3 Eldorado, No. 5 La Cueva, No. 6 Sandia and No. 8 Manzano — and those rankings may be a bit scrambled when the new poll comes out Wednesday — will be engaged in a high-stakes round-robin.
“Obviously,” Sandia coach Alvin Broussard said, “you can’t afford to have a bad night.”
The league opens Wednesday night, with Manzano at Eldorado and Sandia visiting La Cueva, both at 7 p.m.
There is much at stake, even though every member of this quartet seems assured of making the 16-team playoff field. The top two teams in 2-5A almost certainly will earn first-round home games, and possibly even the third-place team as well.
Eldorado coach Roy Sanchez is among those who believe the fourth-place team will likely end up with a first-round road game, and nobody wants to risk that.
“What if we all end up 3-3 (in district)?” Sanchez said. “That could happen.”
The four teams are a combined 52-20, for a winning percentage of 72.2 percent. La Cueva is 15-3, Manzano 13-5, with Eldorado and Sandia at 12-6.
“They’re really close,” Castillo said of the four rivals.
The Eagles enter district on a short two-game losing streak; Sandia is coming off an upset loss to Highland on Saturday.
La Cueva has only dropped one game in 2012 — a roadie at No. 1 Las Cruces.
Manzano may have the most to prove, since the Monarchs’ schedule has been a little bit less demanding than the other three.
Still, Manzano has great defense and outstanding guards, led by Quavshaun Branch.
Every one of these teams has excellent guard play, and the leading scorer for each team is a guard. For Eldorado, it’s Cullen Neal. For La Cueva, it’s Bryce Alford. For Sandia, it’s Isaiah Rogers.
“There’s not a lot of separation (with these teams),” Sanchez said. “It’s very close. The kids are definitely looking forward to it.”
— This article appeared on page D5 of the Albuquerque Journal