The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Plenty of top seeds for area teams in state hoops tourney


February 27, 2018

Tony Bullocks

Portales sophomore Aaliyah Austin (25) defends Moriarty junior Ashley Strader in the first half of Friday's District 4-4A championship game at the Rams Athletic Center.

Area teams are among the favorites to win girls state basketball championships, if the seedings are any indication.

Eastern New Mexico schools accounted for three No. 1 seeds and nine selections across five classes in the girls brackets released Sunday evening by the New Mexico Activities Association.

First-round games will be played Friday on the home courts of the higher seeds. Winners move on to quarterfinal play scattered throughout Albuquerque, Bernalillo and Rio Rancho. All state championship games will be held at The Pit in Albuquerque.

Portales, Texico and Elida all received No. 1 seeds. Elida, the top seed in 1A, is going for its eighth consecutive small-school title.

The Lady Rams are tipping off at 5:30 p.m. against 16th-seeded Bosque on Friday at Portales High School's Ram Athletic Center. Earning that No. 1 seed is an honor, but not necessarily a good-luck charm, according to Portales head coach Wade Fraze.

"I'm kind of leery," Fraze said, "because out of the last 15 years that they have seeded teams in our class, the No. 1 seed has only won (the state championship) two or three times out of 15. So I am pleased with how the season has gone so far, but again, those rankings are just numbers, they don't mean anything once the playoffs start."

Fraze noted the last four years to prove his point. Portales won it all as a No. 3 seed in 2014, but was seeded No. 1 the next two seasons and wound up losing in the 2015 final and the '16 semis. Last season, Hope Christian was No. 1 and lost in the final. "So the tournament hasn't been kind to the No. 1," Fraze said.

And this year, Fraze thinks the 4A competition will be especially intense.

"I've been back in Portales, this is my 13th year back, and I've never seen our classification this deep," Fraze said. "I truly believe among the top eight teams, anybody can beat anybody else on a given night."

Hope Christian, seeded eighth this season, led a recent regular-season game against the Lady Rams by double digits, before the Rams rallied to win by three. And Hope would be Portales' next-round opponent if each survives Friday night's first-round action. Hope Christian is hosting ninth-seeded West Las Vegas at 6 p.m.

So, as Fraze says, the seedings are nice, but guarantee nothing. They do, however, give teams the distinct advantage of opening at home.

"Yes, definitely, that's a good reward," Fraze said. "New Mexico's such a big state; you may have to travel six, seven hours for your first-round game if you don't play it at home."

Here's how the brackets look for area schools:

Class 1A has the most local representation with five seeds. Elida and Melrose, who met in last year's 1A title game, are seeded first and second again. Elida will host 16th-seeded Reserve on Friday at 3 p.m.; Melrose hosts 15th-seeded Walatowa Charter at 6 p.m. Friday.

Grady will also host a first-round contest in the 7-10 game with Springer, beginning Friday at 6 p.m. Road seeds will be No. 13 Clovis Christian at fourth-seeded Des Moines (Friday at 6 p.m.) and No. 14 Floyd at third-seeded Quemado (Friday at 5 p.m.).

In Class 2A, Dora is the No. 9 seed and will visit Tatum on Friday, beginning at 6 p.m. The winner will likely face top-seeded Logan in the quarterfinals.

Texico - which had won 16 straight before falling to Clayton, 51-48, in last Friday night's District 5-3A championship game - is the top seed in Class 3A and will host fellow 5-3A member and current state-tournament 16th seed Santa Rosa this Friday, beginning at 6 p.m. Clayton is seeded third.

In Class 6A, Clovis is the No. 12 seed and will travel to No. 5 Las Cruces on Friday, with tip-off scheduled fro 6 p.m. Clovis head coach Jeff Reed figured the Lady Wildcats would either get the 12 or 13 seed and face Las Cruces or Carlsbad. He seems to have nailed it, as Carlsbad wound up as the No. 4 seed, a notch above Las Cruces.

Texico, Melrose boys No. 1

Throughout the small-school boys basketball season, Texico and Melrose have set the bar. Melrose has won 19 straight since it last lost to ... Texico, which hasn't lost in 26 tries this season.

Both won their respective district tournament championships at home last Saturday, and they've both been honored with No. 1 seeds in the state basketball tournament brackets, released Sunday night by the New Mexico Activities Association.

First-round games will be hosted by the eight higher seeds in each bracket, with quarterfinal and semifinal games scheduled for either Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Bernalillo, just like in the girls bracket. Title games will be March 10 at The Pit in Albuquerque.

Overall, seven local teams received seeds in four classifications. Here's how the brackets shaped up:

Melrose is the top seed in Class 1A and will host 16th-seeded Santa Fe Waldorf on Saturday at 5 p.m. The winner will face the winner of the 8-9 game between Vaughn and Grady, which tips off 2 p.m. Saturday at Vaughn High School. Grady was a district tournament runner-up after losing to Melrose, 80-48, in last Saturday's championship game.

Though Melrose has taken no regular-season or district tournament foe lightly, the Buffaloes have still had eyes on the state tournament all winter long, brushing up as best they could for teams they could face in states.

"We've been sprinkling in scouting reports in practice throughout the year, so we didn't have to jam it in at the end of the year," Melrose head coach Kevin Lackey said. "So we've been preparing. ... These kids are pretty familiar with the film that we've watched all year, as far as some of the teams that we might have to encounter down the road. We wanted to put ourselves in a position where we're prepared ... and that means not just for Santa Fe Waldorf, but for afterwards as well."

Grady, Melrose's opponent in last Saturday's district title game, is among those teams Lackey and the Buffaloes are studying, even though the Buffs beat the Bronchos three times already this season.

"I think those games have been more competitive than the scores maybe indicated," Lackey said. "They're a competitive team for sure."

Floyd, which finished second in District 4-1A, will be the seventh seed and host Cimarron on Saturday at 5 p.m. Elida was seeded No. 13 and will travel to fourth-seeded Quemado on Saturday for a 5 p.m. first-rounder.

Dora is the ninth seed in Class 2A and will visit eighth-seeded Gateway Christian on Saturday, with tip-off scheduled for 6 p.m.

Texico, seeded No. 1 in 3A, is one of four District 5-3A teams in the field. The Wolverines will try to make it 27-0 and take their first step forward in the state tournament when they host 16th-seeded Monte Del Sol Charter on Saturday at 5 p.m. Also making the tournament are Santa Rosa at No. 4, Clayton at No. 12 and Tucumcari at No. 13. Texico beat Santa Rosa, 48-43, in Saturday night's District 5-3A tournament championship game, and Wolverines head coach Ty Thatcher thinks his team might play the Lions a fourth time this season in the upcoming state tournament. If that matchup does occur, it would be in the state semifinals on March 8 in Albuquerque.

In Class 4A, Portales is the No. 6 seed and will host No. 11 Navajo Prep on Saturday at 5 p.m. District 4-4A champion Hope Christian is the No. 3 seed and hosts 14th-seeded Robertson on Saturday at 5 p.m. If the Rams beat Navajo Prep on Saturday, they would face the Hope-Robertson winner in the next round.


Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018

Rendered 01/18/2019 05:46