ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The smallest classification in New Mexico high school basketball has some problems that are mighty unfamiliar to big schools.
To wit: what Quemado coach David Lackey had to say as the Class B state tournament was looming:
“We’re losing a kid a week the last two weeks, getting into trouble and dropping off the team,” Lackey said.
“We only have seven players, so we can’t really lose any more.”
Still, Quemado pulled one of the biggest upsets at the end of the regular season. Having lost twice in the regular season to a Reserve squad led by Layne Kellar and Brandon Johnston, the Eagles turned it around in their district championship game last Friday.
Paced by the play of junior guards Matt Rodriguez and Darryn Lackey, as well as 6-foot-4 sophomore Stefan Beauchamp, Quemado earned an automatic spot in the eight-team postseason tournament.
Drawing the fourth-seed, the Eagles will play Grady in Wednesday’s quarterfinals at Bernalillo High School.
“I think we’ve got a good chance of competing,” coach Lackey said.
Second-seeded Reserve, naturally, feels the same way.
“If we come to play, we’ve got as good a chance as any,” said Mountaineers coach Scott Johnston, whose team will open against San Jon.
Many schools in the bracket feel that way, and with good reason.
In the two years since Class B began play, no team has repeated an appearance in the championship game.
Last season, Wagon Mound won the championship and the Trojans, behind coach Bobby Clouthier, are back after having won their district.
Wagon Mound, the third seed, will play sixth-seeded Walatowa Charter in the quarterfinals.
But the squad that may have the most solid shot in 2013 is the team that finished second to Wagon Mound a year ago. Hondo Valley, coached by Brad Holland, enters the postseason with a 23-4 record.
The top-seeded Eagles, who will play No. 8 Santa Fe Waldorf, have good young talent in sophomore forward Roberto Nores, freshman guard Jordan Brady and fellow frosh Billy Candelaria — Hondo’s leading scorer at 18 points a game. But the team is also spearheaded by the energy of senior point guard Adrian Vasquez.
San Jon, behind the play of senior Jacob Benally, is another squad that could threaten, but the Coyotes have had trouble in district lately with Grady.
The Bronchos have eight straight victories heading into the postseason, with their last loss coming against Class 1A playoff team Logan.
“We’ve played well at the right time of the season,” Grady coach Jason Lee said. “I think there’s six or seven teams that are just right there with each other.”
— This article appeared on page C5 of the Albuquerque Journal