HIGH PRAISE: We begin with a hearty salute to our 12 state champions, among them a pair of Albuquerque public schools, Valley’s boys and Volcano Vista’s girls.
They joined the Roswell boys and Santa Fe girls (4A), the Hope Christian boys and Portales girls (3A), the Dexter boys and the Tularosa girls (2A), the Hagerman boys and the Tatum girls (1A), and the Hondo boys and the Elida girls (B).
From that dozen, two are newbies to the winners’ circle: Tularosa and Dexter.
Tatum and Santa Fe both ended 26-year droughts. Elida’s girls have won four straight blue trophies. Hondo and Hope Christian’s boys went back-to-back.
The seeding committee acquitted itself quite nicely. Half of the 12 champions were No. 1 seeds, and no seed lower than a No. 3 won state. There were two 3s – Portales’ girls and Hagerman’s boys.
(Although we began the week with three unbeatens, none of them left with a championship, and two of them didn’t make it to the season’s final day. That was surprising.)
IF THE RED SOX COULD BREAK THEIR CURSE … Yes, it had only been 18 years between championships for Valley, but it seemed longer. And the journey has been sometimes quite harsh.
“I’ve seen so much crazy stuff happen,” longtime Vikings coach Joe Coleman said.
But there was something about this team that calmed his nerves and convinced him that no miracle or calamity was waiting around the corner to blow up this season.
As Coleman said he told his team, “It will not happen this year.”
SOOTHSAYER: Santa Fe’s Jackie Martinez introduced herself to Demonettes coach Elmer Chavez before her freshman season and made a promise.
I will give you a state championship before I graduate, Martinez told Chavez.
“My word is my bond,” Martinez said after Santa Fe beat Los Lunas in the 4A state final.
“She delivered,” Chavez said.
YAWN: All six of the boys finals this year were decided by double figures. That hasn’t happened since 1980, and there were only four classes then.
The average margin of victory in the six title games was 15.3 points. Oddly enough, many of the scores were identical; there were two 56-41 finals, one of 56-42 and one of 58-41.
It was the girls who provided the thrills. Five of the six finals were decided by five points or fewer, and four of them by three or fewer.
WE GOT YOUR BACK … I MEAN THROAT: One of the most embarrassing episodes of the week was salvaged by a few thousand – and generous – fans in the Pit.
A woman from Clovis, during one of the 5A boys games earlier in the week, twice forgot the words to the national anthem. Fans jumped in to help her and the final third of the anthem was sung en masse by pretty much everyone in the building. She must have been mortified. The fans saved her. Well done.
THEY MADE MICHAEL JORDAN’S NUMBER … OR DID THEY?: One of the most amazing feats of the week occurred in relative obscurity on Wednesday night at Bernalillo High School.
Springer buried 23 shots from beyond the arc in its Class 1A quarterfinal win over Magdalena.
At least, that’s what the New Mexico Activities Association tweeted Wednesday night. (And me, too, based on the NMAA’s tweet.)
On Sunday, wanting to confirm this for myself, I finally tracked down the box score, which didn’t make it into the Journal . The teams combined for 23.
LAST HURRAH? Although Eldorado’s boys didn’t make it to the second week, the Eagles had one of 5A’s most impressive players – Zach Gentry.
The 6-foot-7 junior post, if he weren’t already one of the country’s most promising quarterbacks, could probably be a Division I basketball player, if he were so inclined.
And apparently he’s going to graduate from Eldorado early, in December, so his basketball days are likely over.
In his final game, he scored the Eagles’ final 12 points in a first-round loss to Las Cruces.
“That has been his M.O. all year long,” said Eldorado assistant coach Rick Sleeter, who ran the team that night. “When we needed something, he came up with it. Tonight he was still trying, but he couldn’t quite get there. But that’s who he is. And that’s what’s going to make him an amazing, amazing NFL quarterback. It’s not just all the physical gifts, but that mindset and his will are incredible.”
INDIVIDUAL EFFORT: Two games stood out among the many I personally witnessed. Ramah’s Jordyn Lewis poured in 42 points in a loss to Tularosa and Atrisco Heritage’s Corbin Waquie had 38 in a victory over Sandia. Those are two examples. There were many heroic performances.
THIS WOULD BE CALLED SALT IN THE WOUND: After Volcano Vista’s girls upset Mayfield, I inquired with the Hawks if they felt particular delight that Cibola – a team that had beaten them four times during the season – was sitting home while they celebrated a state championship.
They all laughed.
“They’re probably so mad right now,” Deezha Battle said.