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Dons eye rematch with Warriors

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Trip to state semifinals on the line

By Dave Kavanaugh

If there’s anything to be learned from West Las Vegas’ ill-fated meeting with Taos in the District 2-3A boys’ basketball tournament final, it may be that past matchups mean precious little when it gets down to postseason.

After all, there is Madness in the air.

So perhaps the Dons will do well to forget about the actual outcome of their last meeting with the Ruidoso Warriors.

On Jan. 3, West beat the Warriors 58-49 in Ruidoso. The team enjoyed strong starts to each half, building a lead and then holding its ground as Ruidoso made small runs in the second and fourth quarters. At the time, it was a pretty good win, bringing the Dons within a game of .500 after a start that had a couple of bad bounces.
But now, it’s probably only safe to look at that game film for the sake of scouting players and plays. And maybe recognizing that Ruidoso could be a tough out.

The teams tip off around 8:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Santa Ana Star Center in Rio Rancho as one of four quarterfinal games in Class 3A boys’ hoops. West is 18-8 and the regular-season champ in District 2-3A as well as the tournament runner-up — barely — to Taos, which these Warriors eliminated on Saturday. Ruidoso is 11-17, but the last win was that intriguing 66-64 squeaker in Taos.

WLV head coach David Bustos and his staff have built a strong team that benefits from both talent and depth. Freshman D.J. Bustos is a leading scorer with range and accuracy; he sank three 3-pointers in the opening quarter of West’s 84-63 win over Thoreau Saturday. Andres Gallegos, Miguel Sena, Cody Najar and Tino Castellano can all strike from the perimeter as well. While the Dons aren’t huge inside, Sebastian Bustos is athletic and rangy, and Jose Juan Montaño delivers muscle in the lane. Mike Ortiz, Victor Ulibarri and Adrian Valdez can provide a spark.

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Three area girls’ basketball teams battled for trips to the semifinals on Tuesday in Albuquerque (the 3A Robertson and West Las Vegas teams) and Rio Rancho (Mora and others in 2A). Those games took place after this issue went to press.

See Friday’s Optic for more information.