Cleveland’s boys and Hobbs’ girls will lead the way into the Class 5A state basketball tournament.
The Storm, looking for the program’s first state championship, and the Eagles, last year’s state champions, were given No. 1 seeds Saturday night by the New Mexico Activities Association.
Cleveland heads up the 5A boys bracket, opposite No. 8 seed Santa Fe on Tuesday in the quarterfinals.
“We’re hitting the right strides right now on both the offensive and defensive end,” Storm coach Sean Jimenez said of his team as it enters the postseason as the District 1-5A champion.
Two teams from that district will have home games Tuesday. The other is No. 4 Atrisco Heritage, the only team that beat Cleveland in the regular season. The Jaguars are at home to No. 5 Sandia, which clinched the District 2-5A championship Saturday afternoon with a resounding 64-34 victory over West Mesa.
“We can’t wait to get out there next week,” Storm senior guard Nate Hasberry said. Cleveland could face Atrisco Heritage again Thursday in the semifinals, if both were to advance past Tuesday.
The bottom half of the boys 5A bracket features an interesting item for undefeated Las Cruces, the defending state champion, which was assigned a 3 seed. The Bulldawgs will play No. 6 Los Lunas — the District 5-5A champion — at home Tuesday.
Also in the bottom half, No. 2 seed Roswell, which had its final regular-season game Friday at Clovis canceled because of COVID issues related to the Wildcats, is home to play No. 7 Carlsbad in the quarterfinals.
John Lee Zumbrun left the Carlsbad girls program after last season to coach the Cavemen boys this season.
- In Class 4A, Del Norte has the No. 1 seed, and the Knights, who beat Atrisco Heritage to start the season, will be presented with an early challenge as they face No. 8 Highland. Del Norte nearly made it through this spring season unbeaten. The one loss was a one-point setback to Bernalillo.
Speaking of the Spartans, they are the only other metro-area school in this bracket. Bernalillo, the No. 6, was given a tough road trip in the quarterfinals at No. 3 Gallup.
- Sandia Prep’s boys have a home game in the 3A quarterfinals Monday, as the fourth-seeded Sundevils face No. 5 St. Michael’s. Even if Prep advances, it faces a possible matchup with undefeated Robertson, 3A’s No. 1 seed.
- In Class 1A, the co-op between Evangel Christian and Oak Grove Classical Academy was seeded No. 6.
Hobbs faces No. 8 Sandia on Tuesday in the 5A quarters. The Matadors played their way into the field Saturday afternoon, knocking off Eldorado.
That district, 2-5A, has three of the eight teams in the postseason.
The Eagles, who won the league, were seeded sixth and have to visit undefeated Centennial in the quarterfinals. La Cueva, the 7 seed, also has to travel, but only out Paseo del Norte to face No. 2 seed Volcano Vista.
La Cueva had perhaps the most interesting week of any team in the state. The Bears won a game on a buzzer-beater and lost a game on a buzzer-beater in the same week, within three days.
The Hawks and Hobbs, like Centennial, are undefeated. Hobbs beat Volcano Vista in last year’s state final.
No. 4 seed Los Lunas plays fifth-seeded Cleveland. The Tigers are one of the few state tournament teams that won’t have fans for the quarterfinals, since Valencia County remains at a “yellow” level, and thus no spectators are allowed for indoor sporting events.
Los Lunas has won 11 straight after losing to Hobbs at neutral-site Ruidoso to open the season. The two could meet again Thursday in the semis.
- Three local teams are in the 4A bracket, led by No. 3 Bernalillo, which is home to No. 6 Kirtland Central.
No. 5 Highland (Gallup) and No. 7 St. Pius (Española Valley) are on the road.
The Sartans got in despite having the final week of their regular season canceled because of a positive COVID case on campus that led officials to voluntarily shut down school until Monday. But St. Pius had played enough games to be eligible to be selected.
- Two other metro teams, No. 5 Sandia Prep in 3A, at Hatch Valley, and No. 8 Oak Grove/Evangel Christian in 1A, also are in the state tournament.
Times for all quarterfinal games are to be determined.