Las Cruces Boys, Eldorado Girls No. 1
Las Cruces and Eldorado, consistent No. 1s in the polls, on Sunday were awarded No. 1 seeds for the Class 5A state basketball tournaments.
First-round games are Friday (girls) and Saturday (boys).
The Bulldawgs (22-4) open with No. 16 Rio Rancho (11-16), a school that lost its final 15 games of last season.
“Getting back is satisfying as a coach, and for some of the players who went through that,” Rio Rancho coach Wally Salata said. “We were getting blasted by everybody, and it’s no fun when that happens.”
Albuquerque High (21-4) is the No. 2 seed, and was paired with defending state champion Oñate. The Knights already have been to Bulldog City once, and it was one of the oddest games of the 2011-12 season. Oñate’s meticulous, slowdown style had the Knights within four points with six minutes left before AHS went on a late run to win 40-28.
La Cueva got the No. 3 seed, and opens with No. 14 Highland.
Cibola-Manzano is also a rematch of a memorable regular-season game that the Cougars won 53-52 at the buzzer in overtime. Cibola is the No. 4 seed, Manzano the No. 13.
“I was surprised we were that low,” Manzano coach Travis Julian said. “I thought we’d be in the 9-11 range.”
Fifth-seeded Eldorado will host No. 12 Mayfield in the first round, and Hobbs, at the No. 6, plays host to No. 11 Sandia.
The 7-10 matchup also has a familiar feel. Valley upended Volcano Vista in the final seconds last year in the first round in the North Valley; this time, the seventh-seeded Hawks are the home team.
“It’s a tough matchup,” Valley coach Joe Coleman said, “but we like it.”
The Vikings surely improved their standing last week by going 3-0 in the District 5-5A tournament, capped Saturday by a 61-60 upset of AHS.
“I don’t like playing Greg (Brown, the Volcano coach), because he does such a good job, but we’re playing as well as we can play right now, so I guess there’s no better time to do it,” Coleman said.
No. 9 West Mesa travels to No. 8 Clovis in the first round.
CLASS 4A: As expected, Goddard and Roswell are the top two seeds; the Rockets were the state runners-up last year to Española Valley, which did not qualify for state this year.
St. Pius, a state semifinalist a season ago, is the No. 4 seed and opens with No. 13 Valencia. Atrisco Heritage Academy got a No. 11 seed, but was assigned a tough first-rounder at No. 6 Grants.
Bernalillo already beat Kirtland once in the Four Corners, rallying from a huge deficit to win in overtime. The Broncos visit Spartan Alley in the 8-9 matchup.
CLASS 3A: Hope, St. Michael’s and Sandia Prep – district rivals in 5-3A – comprise three of the top four seeds.
CLASS 2A: If eighth-seeded Bosque School solves Texico in the first round, they’ll likely face No. 1 Laguna-Acoma in the quarterfinals.
CLASS 1A: Menaul earned a No. 11 seed, and faces No. 6 Capitan in the first round.
One of Sunday’s stunners was seeing 24-1 Volcano Vista as a No. 3 seed in 5A – just behind another 24-1 squad, Eldorado, but also behind a three-loss Clovis team.
The Hawks face 14th-seeded Valley in the first round.
The early consensus is, Eldorado – which debuts against No. 16 Highland – has a very favorable top half of the bracket. The four teams that might be considered the strongest challengers to the Eagles – Clovis, Volcano Vista, Sandia and La Cueva – are in the other half of the bracket.
District 2-5A had three schools in the top seven. La Cueva was a No. 6 and Sandia a No. 7.
The Matadors last season were upset in the first round by Carlsbad in overtime. The Cavegirls will be back at Sandia again this week, as the No. 10 seed.
La Cueva lost its season opener to Cibola. The Cougars, at No. 11, will be back in the Bears’ gym for the first round on Friday.
“I’m used to being a little lower than I think I deserve to be,” Cibola coach Lori Stephenson said.
Clovis opens with No. 15 Rio Grande. No. 5 seed Hobbs will be home to No. 12 Oñate, and defending state champion Mayfield, as a No. 4 seed, hosts 13th-seeded Rio Rancho in the playoff opener.
Cleveland’s girls were the No. 9 seed, and will visit No. 8 Las Cruces in the first round. The Storm already beat the Lady Bulldawgs once this season.
CLASS 4A: Grants is the top seed here, but don’t expect a metro-area presence deep into this tournament, at least if it holds to form. St. Pius is a No. 10 seed, Del Norte is 13th and Bernalillo 14th.
CLASS 3A: Hope is the No. 1 seed, although second-seeded Santa Fe Indian’s win over the Huskies on Friday certainly ups the ante for both schools.
CLASS 2A/1A: Texico is the top seed in 2A, Melrose in 1A.
— This article appeared on page B3 of the Albuquerque Journal