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Prep basketball: No. 1 Las Cruces, No. 1 Hope in Joe Armijo Classic

The Joe Armijo Classic at Albuquerque Academy can usually be counted on to offer prep basketball fans some intriguing matchups, either early in the tournament or at the end.

Among the possibilities this week is a Saturday night showdown between a pair of No. 1s.

Class 6A’s No. 1, Las Cruces, headlines this year’s boys field as the annual boys/girls event tips off early Thursday (8 a.m.) with 24 games over three days.

If form holds over the first two days, the Bulldawgs could meet Class 4A’s No. 1-ranked team, Hope Christian, in Saturday’s 8:15 p.m. tournament finale. Las Cruces opens up in the first round at 8:15 p.m. Thursday against Clovis.

But the boys’ bracket opens with Highland-Sandia at 8 a.m., and Hope-Centennial at 9:45 a.m. The host Chargers and Aztec are in the top half of the draw with the Bulldawgs.

Cleveland-Highland is probably the best first-round girls pairing, as the 10th-ranked Storm — off to an impressive 4-1 start — takes on the seventh-ranked Hornets. They play at 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

Class 6A’s No. 3-rated team, Las Cruces, faces Los Alamos at 1:15 p.m. Thursday. On the top half, it’s Academy-Centennial (4:45 p.m.) and Sandia-Hope (3 p.m.). The girls championship game is slated for 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

The Rio Rancho Girls Basketball Invitational also tips off Thursday. The host Rams, ranked sixth, open with Española Valley at 1 p.m. Thursday.

Following are Valley-Aztec at 3, Roswell-Mayfield at 5 and Oñate-Clovis at 7. The championship game is 7 p.m. Saturday.

The 44th Alice King Invitational in Moriarty also runs Thursday-Saturday. St. Pius, rated No. 4 in Class 5A, opens at 4 p.m. Thursday against Pojoaque, the No. 6 team in 4A. The host Pintos, with a No. 3 ranking in 4A, meet rival Estancia in the final game at 7 p.m. Del Norte-Miyamura (5:30 p.m.) and Bernalillo-Cobre (2:30 p.m.) are also entered.

BOYS: The Hub City tournament in Belen’s first-round games Thursday are Mayfield-El Paso High at 3, Los Alamos-Mission Achievement and Success at 4:30, Manzano-Moriarty at 6 and Thoreau-Belen at 7:30 p.m. The host Eagles are ranked fifth in Class 5A. The Hub City final is 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

• Cleveland is hosting a round robin Thursday, Friday and Saturday. La Cueva and Los Lunas are part of the six schools taking part. The top matchup is the last one, at 2 p.m. Saturday between Los Lunas and Cleveland, who both are ranked No. 2 in their respective classes.