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Going to State! Seven area teams begin championship quests this weekend

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By Dave Kavanaugh

Seven area high school teams and their fans are gearing up for one of the most anticipated events on the calendar — the New Mexico Activities Association state basketball championships.

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Or, as they call it ‘round these parts, “State.”

Teams learned their postseason pairings late Sunday, hours after the last of the district tournaments around the state had concluded. Considering how long the hoops season has been, things will happen now at a relentless pace.

Within a week of the brackets being announced, each 16-team bracket will be reduced by 50 percent, the first cut coming this Friday and Saturday at various campus sites around the state.

After another week, it’ll be down to the championship games and a shot at history.

BOYS
The West Las Vegas Dons (17-8), regular-season champs in District 2-3A, have been named the No. 4 seed in the Class 3A boys’ basketball tournament. They will host No. 13 Thoreau (16-9) at 4 p.m. Saturday at Gillie Lopez Gym to begin the state tourney. The winner advances to play either No. 5 Taos or No. 12 Ruidoso, who play in another first-round contest Saturday.

Taos edged West in the district tournament final this past Saturday night, and the ensuing celebration by Tigers fans prompted the Dons’ backers to chant “Wait ‘til State.”

WLV head coach David Bustos has guided the Dons to state in both of his go-rounds with the team. He’s also taken Robertson and Pecos on deep postseason runs.

The Robertson Cardinals (10-17) are in as the No. 15 seed and travel to No. 2 St. Michael’s (21-7) for a 6 p.m. Saturday tip-off at Perez-Shelley Gym.

In other Class 3A boys’ first-round games this weekend, No. 1 Hope Christian hosts No. 16 Raton, No. 8 Wingate hosts No. 9 Portales, No. 3 Silver hosts No. 14 Santa Fe Indian, No. 6 Lovington hosts No. 11 Pojoaque Valley, and No. 7 Sandia Prep hosts No. 10 Shiprock.

Quarterfinals are Wednesday, March 12, at the Santa Ana Star Center. Semifinals are Friday, March 14, at The Pit. The championship game is 10 a.m. Saturday, March 15, at The Pit.

The Mora Rangers (13-16) are the No. 11 seed in Class 2A boys’ basketball. They will travel to No. 6 Mesilla Valley Christian (21-6) for a first-round game at 2 p.m. Saturday. The winner gets the winner between No. 3 Clayton and No. 14 Dulce next week at the Santa Ana Star Center.

In other Class 2A boys’ first-round matchups, No. 1 Laguna Acoma hosts No. 16 Eunice, No. 8 Tohatchi hosts No. 9 Tularosa, No. 5 Santa Fe Prep hosts No. 12 Crownpoint, No. 4 Texico hosts No. 13 Penasco, No. 7 Lordsburg hosts No. 10 Santa Rosa, and No. 2 Dexter hosts No. 15 Bosque.

Quarterfinals are Wednesday, March 12, at the Santa Ana Star Center. Semifinals are Thursday, March 13, at the Star Center. The championship game is 8 a.m. Saturday, March 15, at The Pit.

Wagon Mound, just a couple of seasons removed from a Class B state championship, will play in regional action this weekend; Class B winners advance to quarterfinals Wednesday, March 12, at Bernalillo High School. The semifinals are Thursday, March 13, also at Bernalillo. The championship is 11:30 a.m. Friday, March 14, at The Pit.

GIRLS
Champions of District 2-3A — both regular season and tournament — the West Las Vegas Lady Dons are the No. 5 seed in Class 3A girls’ hoops. West (19-8) will host No. 12 Thoreau (17-9) at 7 p.m. Friday at Gillie Lopez Gym. The prize is a quarterfinal with the winner between No. 4 Hope Christian and No. 13 Wingate.

Robertson’s Lady Cardinals (14-14) also get a first-round home game. The No. 8 seed Lady Cards host No. 9 Silver (17-10) at 6 p.m. Friday at Mike Marr Gym. Winner moves on to face either No. 1 Shiprock or No. 16 Taos.

On the other half of the bracket, No. 3 Portales hosts No. 14 Santa Fe Indian, No. 6 Sandia Prep hosts No. 11 Raton, No. 7 St. Michael’s hosts No. 10 Pojoaque Valley, and No. 2 Lovington hosts No. 15 Socorro.

Quarterfinals will be held Tuesday, March 11, at The Pit. Semifinals are Thursday, March 13, at The Pit. And the championship game is 3:30 p.m. Friday, March 14, at The Pit.

After racking up their third straight District 2-2A title and winning the district tournament, the Mora Rangerettes (22-3) were awarded the No. 3 seed in Class 2A girls’ basketball. Mora will host No. 14 Tohatchi (15-11) at 6 p.m. Friday at Montoya Gym. Winner moves on to a quarterfinal date with either No. 6 Hatch Valley or No. 11 Zuni on a neutral court at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center.

In other Class 2A girls’ first-round pairings, No. 1 Texico hosts No. 16 Santa Fe Prep, No. 8 Eunice hosts No. 9 Clayton, No. 5 Laguna Acoma hosts No. 12 Santa Rosa, No. 4 Navajo Prep hosts No. 13 Mesa Vista, No. 7 Cuba hosts No. 10 Ramah, and No. 2 Tularosa hosts No. 15 Loving.

Quarterfinals will be Tuesday, March 11, at the Santa Ana Star Center. Semifinals are Thursday, March 13, also at the Star Center. The championship game is 5:30 p.m. Friday, March 14, at The Pit.

Admission for first-round games is $5. Tickets at the Star Center are $10 adults, $5 students and seniors. Tickets at The Pit are $15 reserved chairbacks, $10 adult general admission, $5 students and seniors; parking at The Pit will be $5 a vehicle.