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

March Madness actually began up in Albuquerque


March 13, 2018

Peter Stein

Texico's Baylee Sours (left) and Maryelle Dickerman pose with their Class 3A state-championship medals and their team's blue state-championship trophy last Friday at Albuquerque's Dreamstyle Arena, shortly after the top-seeded Lady Wolverines defeated second-seeded Tohatchi 48-47 on Dickerman's buzzer-beater that was assisted by Sours.

Anything interesting happen over the weekend?

Oh, yeah. Four area basketball teams won state championships in Albuquerque.

There was drama, drama everywhere at Dreamstyle Arena, as the Elida and Melrose girls' rivalry was on display one last time this season, the Texico girls won on a buzzer-beater, the Portales girls staged a stirring rally to win their first state crown since 2014, and the Melrose boys climbed out of an early eight-point deficit to beat Maxwell.

Ironically, the local team finishing with the best record (29-1) and winning percentage (.967) lost its bid for a state title. The Texico boys basketball team was defeated by a good Pecos run in the fourth quarter Saturday morning, 58-44.


Friday's Elida-Melrose Class A state championship game, which tipped off shortly before noon, was the fourth and most consequential chapter of this year's Tigers-Buffaloes rivalry this winter.

Elida swept Melrose during the regular season - winning at Melrose High 48-29 on Jan. 30 and at home 40-38 on Feb. 15. The Lady Buffaloes, though, won the Feb. 23 district championship game, 36-32, at Elida.

But while Melrose took the district crown, Elida brought home its eighth consecutive blue trophy by winning Friday's game, 58-44, to finish 25-7, as a close game early on became mostly all Elida's in the second quarter.

The rivalry, though, should remain fueled for next year. Melrose would love to get back for another try, but Elida wants to make it nine straight championships.


Texico's girls appeared doomed against Tohatchi in Friday afternoon's 3A championship game, when Brianna Denetso hit a three from the right corner to give the Lady Cougars a 47-46 lead with seconds to go in the fourth quarter.

But, the Lady Wolverines' Baylee Sours lofted a pass to her teammate Maryelle Dickerman, who went up for the game-winner just before the buzzer, giving Texico a 48-47 win and the program's 11th title.

It was a satisfying victory for Texico, a team facing two opponents - Tohatchi and the Tohatchi fans, who were load, boisterous and at times, brutal, even roundly booing the Lady Wolverines when they were receiving their medals.

"It was kind of intimidating," Texico head coach Richard Luscombe said. "Especially at times when they got loud. We were fortunate enough when they made a little run, we made a run, so we kind of kept it from getting loud for a long period of time. But man, I don't know. That's an amazing thing, the crowd base that they have. That's just amazing."


The Portales girls had won all three prior meetings with Moriarty this season, but the Lady Rams knew that guaranteed them nothing when it came to Friday's 4A state championship game.

And for much of Friday's late-afternoon game, it seemed like Moriarty was going to win the fourth matchup, leading 31-24 well into the third quarter.

But Portales wasn't going to let its most important game against the Lady Pintos slip away that easily. They embarked on a staggering 17-2 run that changed everything. Taylee Rippee contributed nine points to the surge (including the first five), with Kelly Fraze adding six points and Lindsay Blakey supplying two. When they were done, the game had a totally new complexion, and though Moriarty hung around for a while longer, Portales eventually pulled away to win 50-39 and bag that championship, the program's eighth.

The players had just kept coming after it, like battering Rams.


The announcer at Dreamstyle Arena made it fun for every team the way he announced every basket like it was a game-winner for a home team. But, after Melrose had beaten Maxwell 50-37 for the Class A title Saturday morning and the Buffaloes were each being announced as they received their medals, the p.a. guy said they were coached by "Kevin Lacey."

No harm done. Lacey and/or Lackey enjoyed seeing senior post Jordan Jasso hoist the blue trophy as his teammates crowded around him.

Lacey ... uh, Lackey ... was excited about how his team had performed, especially after falling behind 8-0 in the first quarter.

"I thought all of our guys did so many great things," Lackey said. "I just couldn't be happier, lots of joy."

He was especially proud of his five seniors — Blake Devaney, Sterling Sena, Jasso, Carson Fraze and Hunter Sorgen.

Peter Stein

Melrose basketball players, left to right, Jordan Jasso, Blake Devaney and Tristan Sena field media questions following Saturday morning's victory over Maxwell in the Class A state championship game at Albuquerque's Dreamstyle Arena.

"They're going to go down as one of the most decorated groups in the history of New Mexico with all the championships they've won across the board in football, basketball, track and baseball," Lackey said. "So hopefully, these guys can go get two more this year."


Despite Saturday morning's difficult 58-44 loss to Maxwell, the Texico boys basketball team carried itself with class.

"I think the tools that they developed through the season will reach further than basketball," Wolverines head coach Ty Thatcher said.


Clovis' boys basketball team didn't make the state tournament. But way back on Dec. 30, the Wildcats edged Belen 64-61 in their holiday tournament championship game at Rock Staubus Gymnasium.

Why is that a big deal now? Because on Saturday, that same Belen team defeated Espanola Valley 73-65 to win the 5A state championship.

So, the 2018 Wildcats will always know they beat a future state champ.


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