Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
With the prep basketball season bumbling and rumbling and stumbling to its inevitable conclusion – with an empty Pit arena awaiting those schools who earned the right to play in the state tournament – it is a good time to see which locals teams might be jogging down the hallowed ramp shortly.
With just eight teams in each classification gaining a coveted tournament berth, each district sends its champion, while the remaining teams vie for one of the few at-large spots.
5A: It is a wipeout for the two local schools as both Capital and Santa Fe have taken their lumps this season. The Jaguars have shown some improvement, but five overall losses doom it to another year of watching the tournament from the sidelines.
4A: Española Valley is almost a lock to win District 2-5A and, with bully Los Lunas bumped up to 5A to wreak havoc on the likes of Capital and Santa Fe, the Sundevils have the makings of a team that could really make some noise during May Madness. Seniors Jasmaine Baca and Miranda Salazar are leading the offense, and are a difficult duo to defend. Depending on how things fall around the rest of the state, Taos, led by 6-4 freshman Kionamua Ely, could sneak into the tournament.
3A: A two-team chase to the finish awaits Robertson and West Las Vegas as the 2-3A rival schools had identical records entering a late cross-town game this weekend. St. Michael’s got a big win Wednesday against the Cardinals to end a three-game losing streak that may have ruined the Horsemen’s chances. Winning out, however, just may get them back into the state playoffs conversation.
2A: Right now, it’s all about Pecos. The defending 2A champion Panthers are not just good, they are historically good, beating opponents by an average 65-24 score. Trinity Herrera is leading the way for the 6-2A frontrunners, averaging 16.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists and a ridiculous 7.8 steals game. Escalante is rampaging through 5-2A, leaving only Mora with any kind of a shot at a breakthrough.
5A: Santa Fe’s chances took a major hit this week with a loss to Los Lunas, leaving the Demons precariously perched, hoping for an at-large berth with Capital striving for the same goal. The very real possibility exists that Wednesday’s meeting between the city rivals at Santa Fe could be a play-in game, with the winner advancing to the state tournament and the loser staying home.
4A: Española Valley controls its destiny in 2-4A and could all but clinch the district championship Saturday in a late game against Taos. Los Alamos also remains a contender and while, in normal years, all three would almost certainly make the state tournament, this season at least one will be home earlier than expected. These Sundevils, however, are not of the running-and-gunning sort, averaging just 44 points a game, led by Garrett May’s 10.3. The Hilltoppers, meanwhile, are getting 16 points from Harrison Frank and 15.6 from Wesley Stanfield.
3A: It is all over bar the shouting as Robertson has a significant lead over St. Michael’s and has beaten the Horsemen twice. A buzzer-beating shot Wednesday to defeat West Las Vegas puts St. Michael’s into the at-large discussion, and winning out would give the Horsemen a good case for a berth.
2A: With virtually an entirely new squad, Pecos is going for the five-peat, but a tough Texico squad stands in its way in 6-2A, while Santa Rosa also will pose a challenge in an extremely tough grouping.
In 2-2A, Monte del Sol, behind Keith Montoya (15.5 points a game) and Brayan Roybal (13.5) needs to sweep the rest of its game to make an easy argument for state tournament inclusion.