ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sapien Classic at Cleveland High includes top basketball programs
When Rio Rancho set out to host a holiday boys basketball tournament a few years ago, it envisioned a field that would rival any event in the state.
And the Rio Rancho Public Schools/John Sapien Holiday Hoops Classic still has a fine collection of teams. It’s just half as big as it used to be.
The Sapien has downsized from 16 to eight teams, and the annual tournament begins today at Cleveland — one of a handful of post-Christmas/pre-New Year’s prep events that fill the calendar between the two holidays.
It was costing organizers too much money to put up all the visiting teams in the previous 16-team format, which was the driving reason behind slicing it in half.
The metro area can get its first look at 5A contender Las Cruces, which faces Randall, Texas, at 2 p.m. in the opener at Cleveland. Rio Rancho, off to a solid 5-2 start, takes on Hope Christian at 3:45.
Manzano and Española Valley square off at 5:30 p.m., with the host Storm facing defending 4A state champion Santa Teresa at 7:15.
The semifinals are 5:30 and 7:15 p.m. Friday, with the championship game at 7:15 Saturday night, all at Cleveland.
A quick rundown on other holiday tournaments, which all begin today:
LOS LUNAS: The third annual Village of Los Lunas Holiday Classic has both a boys bracket and a girls bracket.
The boys matchups feature Deming-Sandia Prep at 10:30 a.m., Del Norte-Centennial at 1:30, Valencia-Bosque School at 4:30, and Los Lunas-Aztec at 7:30.
For the girls, it’s Socorro-Del Norte at 9 a.m., Valencia-Centennial at noon, Belen-Artesia at 3 p.m. and Los Lunas-Sandia Prep at 6 p.m.
Boys semis are 3 and 6 p.m. Friday, with the final at 7:30 Saturday night. Girls semis are 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, with the final at 6 p.m. Saturday.
STU CLARK INVITATIONAL: The annual Stu Clark Invite at New Mexico Highlands in Las Vegas will feature Bernalillo, St. Pius and West Mesa, among others.
The Spartans and Sartans are the first game today at 1 p.m. St. Pius beat Bernalillo 58-50 on Dec. 6.
The Mustangs face Capital in the first round. Also today, Central High from Phoenix meets West Las Vegas, and Robertson faces Moriarty.
CLOVIS: Albuquerque High’s boys and girls will be in Clovis for tournaments. The AHS boys open at 4:20 this afternoon against Hereford, Texas. Defending Class 3A state champion St. Michael’s is also in the field, plus Clovis and five teams from Texas.
The Albuquerque High girls are also in Clovis.
ALAMOGORDO: Valley’s boys and girls are at the VFW Holiday Tournament. The boys open with 2A power Mesilla Valley at 2:30 p.m. today. The girls play El Paso Austin at 4 p.m.
Alamogordo, Tularosa and Carlsbad are the other New Mexico teams in both fields.
HOBBS: Highland’s boys are at the Eagles’ annual holiday tournament. The Hornets are matched up with the host team in the finale tonight at 7:45. The other six teams in the field are from Texas or Arizona.
LAS CRUCES: The Holiday Hoop-La Tournament is a girls-only event at Las Cruces High. Rio Rancho and Highland are entered. The Rams play Mayfield at 5 p.m., the Hornets face Oñate at 1 p.m.
N.M. AMERICAN INDIAN CLASSIC: The second annual New Mexico American Indian Tip-Off Classic also begins today at various communities around the state including Bernalillo, which is among the many sites hosting first-round games.
There are 32 teams in the field, including the Bernalillo girls, plus the Native American Community Academy on Albuquerque’s south side.
The Albuquerque Academy girls are one of two non-Native American schools in the field.
The tournament bracket consists of four divisions that includes large schools (2A-4A) and small schools (Class 1A, Class B) for boys and girls.
There are four championship games at the Santa Ana Star Center on Saturday, starting at 3 p.m.
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal