Sure, everyone wants to be playing their best basketball heading into the biggest tournament of the year, but sometimes that just can’t be.
Logan (23-7), for instance, has a quite modest one-game winning streak entering today’s Class 1A girls quarterfinals. And the Longhorns have only split their last four games – with the two losses coming against district rival Melrose.
Should that be a point of concern? Maybe, maybe not.
After all, Logan had a similar entry point to the state tourney in 2013 and, when the dust settled, the Longhorns walked away with the blue championship trophy.
“It’s almost identical to what happened a year ago. We stumbled a bit down the stretch, just a lot like we did last year,” Logan coach Clair Rachor said. “Not taking anything away from Melrose, because they earned those wins, but we got a lot of the stomach flu and then lost a tiebreaker game. By the end of the week, we were just wore out.”
The Longhorns have plenty back from the 2013 championship team and are led by guards Shana Sorrels and Brooke Rachor. Inside, sophomore Kippi Webb and junior Emily Collins are a handful for opponents.
A year ago, Logan was only the sixth seed in the 1A bracket. This time, the Longhorns were assigned the fifth seed and will play No. 4 Magdalena (25-3) in the next round.
“It (the seedings) kind of regrouped us. It’s kind of humbling to see where you stand,” Rachor said. “They’re actually fired up and anxious about it.”
While Logan upset Cliff in last year’s semifinals, Melrose did the same to Tatum.
This time, Melrose (18-10) has garnered the tournament’s third seed and will play sixth-seeded Floyd (19-8) in the quarterfinals. Though in different districts, the rivals are only a few miles apart and have split their two games this season.
The Buffaloes are led by junior standout Caley Barnard, who averages over 20 points a game. Without a senior, Melrose also has young talent in sophomore guard Taylor Bostwick and freshman Reagan Carthel. Floyd will look for production from senior Tabitha Ornelas and junior Jasmine Gomez.
“Every game, every team we’ve played has been top competition,” Melrose coach Caleb King said. “So the state tournament is basically what we’re used to.”
As was the case a year ago, Tatum and Cliff are the top two seeds in the tournament as each squad has lost only one game.
Cliff (28-1), the second seed, will take on No. 7 Springer (19-7) today. Though annually a power, Cliff has not won a state title since 2001. A group of seniors that includes post players Taylor McCauley and Meghan Gregory, as well as guards Isabella Reed, Aspen Bruten and Katie Turner, is aiming to change that.
As for Tatum, the Coyotes have transitioned nicely behind new coach Greg Slover after longtime leader Mike Majors left the scene. The Coyotes, who will play Dora (15-13) in the quarters, have on their resume a win over Texico – the top-seeded team in the Class 2A bracket.
The only loss for Tatum came at the hands of Class B’s top-seed Elida, a team that Tatum also beat twice in the 2013-14 campaign.
“We kind of changed styles, and that was a little scary in itself,” Slover said.
But the leadership of junior guard Abby Medlin and senior Monica Alvarez helped the Coyotes regroup rather quickly.
“We knew the other kids were solid, but we didn’t know they would come together the way they did,” Slover said.