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The South has risen again in boys big-school hoops

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A Journal reporter asked Las Cruces coach William Benjamin about how well the southern programs have showed this week in the Class 5A bracket — in relation to Albuquerque schools that had been seeded first (Eldorado), second (Sandia) and third (La Cueva).

“You’re a reporter, you tell me what that says,” he said. “We’re still here.”

“We know how good the basketball is up north,” he continued. “Sandia should have been a two seed. Eldorado should be a one seed. And La Cueva, with a player like (Bryce) Alford, should have been a three seed.”

— James Yodice

Logan senior Whitney Cordova, coming off a 25-point performance to win the 1A girls championship, will be attending Eastern New Mexico next year, but the 5-year starter is unsure whether she’ll be suiting up for the Greyhounds next season.

“I haven’t decided if I’m going to play yet,” she said. “I’ll think about it.”

Cordova helped the Longhorns win their first state championship in 33 years.

— Edmundo Carrillo

FASHION STATEMENT: The Laguna Acoma boys team brightened Saturday morning in the Pit with its neon green socks and sneakers.

“Senior’s choice,” Hawks coach Ryan Peil said. “They like to stand out. It’s kind of saying, ‘Look at us.’ But we back it up with our game.”

— Ed Johnson

GATORADE SPLASH: Gatorade’s Player of the Year has made major contributions to Clovis’ march toward the Class 5A boys state championship game.

That would be junior guard Kamal Cass — the state’s football player of the year for the 2012 season.

Cass was part of the tandem guarding Eldorado’s explosive Cullen Neal on Thursday night in the semifinals. Neal finished with 28 points, three rebounds and three assists, but the Wildcats contested him with terrific pressure defense from both Cass and Willie McCray.

Kass was a 2,000-yard rusher for the Clovis football team. And while it might seem natural to assume he is an alpha male who craves the basketball, it’s anything but that around Clovis. He is perfectly content to fill this smaller, but vital, role on the hardwood.

“Kamal is just a winner. He’s the toughest kid I’ve ever coached, and he doesn’t care at all what people think about him,” Matt King said. “He made it tough on Cullen tonight. And he doesn’t care about scoring one point on our team.”

Indeed, Clovis football coach Eric Roanhaus, seen walking the concourse a bit later Thursday, echoed King.

At football practice, Roanhaus said, “He’s our hardest-working kid.”

— James Yodice
— This article appeared on page D4 of the Albuquerque Journal

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