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East-West boys' varsity game cancelled

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Scheduling snafu leads to forfeit

By Dave Kavanaugh

West Las Vegas WILL host Robertson in boys’ basketball Friday night.

But the East-West faceoff will not include varsity teams. Because of an overscheduling violation by West, the schools will meet only in freshman and junior varsity games. First game will tip off at 5:30 p.m. (new time) at Gillie Lopez Gym.

West Las Vegas was informed by the New Mexico Activities Association that it had reached the maximum of 26 regular-season games with Wednesday’s meeting with St. Michael’s and would need to forfeit the Robertson game, which had been the scheduled regular-season finale for both teams.

West Las Vegas Schools Superintendent Jim Abreu filed an appeal with the NMAA, the organization that sanctions and oversees athletic and other extracurricular competitions in the state. The NMAA executive board met on that appeal late Friday morning but sided with the organization's initial ruling.

Because more than one individual took part in scheduling games for the team, it remains unclear as to how and when the snafu occurred. A game that had been scheduled at Española Valley was initially cancelled due to weather concerns. It was eventually rescheduled and held Jan. 12. However, in the meantime, the Dons had picked up an additional game vs. Thoreau, played Jan. 19. It’s not clear whether that was the mix-up responsible for the team’s exceeding the 26-game limit.

Abreu said he based his appeal on the fact that the East-West game holds a long tradition, that it draws significant fan attendance, and that it thus generates a sizable amount in gate receipts essential to supporting the athletic department through the school year. Since spring sports do not charge admission, they do not generate revenue.

Abreu said he did not directly oversee the Dons’ scheduling but will take responsibility for the error.

“It’s one of those things that bites you sometimes,” he said, noting that as many as five other schools have also been penalized because they had exceeded the game limit. In the other cases, the teams were forced to forfeit the games at season’s end.

Abreu said he asked an NMAA official whether the Robertson game could be held at all should the ruling be upheld. He said the answer was not reassuring — that further violation could result in forfeiture of postseason games.

“We don’t want to go that route,” Abreu said.

Abreu said he hoped the NMAA executive board, comprised of several fellow superintendents, would consider the circumstances and look kindly upon the appeal. He said he would ask the board to consider imposing an alternate penalty — such as a fine or reduction in next season’s game allotment — and thus allow the WLV-RHS varsity contest to go on as scheduled.

But in advance of the ruling Friday morning he acknowledged that the appeal may not succeed and West would have to live with the decision.

The forfeiture figures to shake up the district tournament, scheduled to begin Monday. Provided that Santa Fe Indian defeats winless Raton on Friday, the Braves would jump to the third seed while the Dons would slip from third to fourth. As the third seed, the Braves would then host sixth-seeded Raton Monday to open the tourney. Meanwhile, WLV would host fifth-seeded Robertson, also Monday. Monday’s winners would play each other on Tuesday on the campus of the higher remaining seed.

St. Michael’s and Pojoaque Valley have already clinched the top two seeds. The Elks will host Tuesday’s winner on Wednesday in Jacona, and Wednesday’s winner advances to play St. Mike’s for the district championship on Friday night at Perez-Shelley Gym in Santa Fe.

WLV won this season’s first East-West boys’ game 64-52 on Feb. 4 at Mike Marr Gym.