The All-Stars have arrived.
Representatives of the Class 3A North and South All-Star football, boys’ and girls’ basketball teams are due in town today for the beginning of a week of activities that culminates with All-Star competititions in the three sports.
The girls’ hoops contest is set for 6 p.m. Friday at the Wilson Complex on the campus of New Mexico Highlands University. The boys’ basketball game follows approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of the girls’ game.
Then at 7 p.m. Saturday, the football game kicks off at Perkins Stadium.
Tickets will be available at the door or gate on the day of each event.
Las Vegas has hosted the North-South week for Class 3A since 2003. The reputation of the Meadow City’s success in organizing and hosting the festivities has paid off in an unprecedented six-year run for the classification’s all-star week.
Participants invited to North-South represent many of the premier high school Class of 2008 student-athletes across the state. While some will continue their athletic careers into college this fall, others could be suiting up for the last time, at least in organized competition in their sports.
The week ahead should provide some interesting sights, as onetime rivals finsd themselves joining forces in common uniforms — either the Red of the North or the Blue of the South. Robertson’s Adrian Martinez throwing an out route to Louie Eres of St. Michael’s? It’s a definite possibility, as players from the district rivals — and both sides of last December’s state championship football game — team up. Or how about a Brandon Encinias (West Las Vegas) to Ryan Gonzales (Pojoaque Valley) fast break? It’s only been four months since the Dons and Elks clashed in a memorable state final.
Today’s activities will see players and coaches gather for team photos and first practice sessions. Practices will continue through the week at NMHU and West Las Vegas Middle School.
Sponsored by local and area businesses who contribute to the North-South happening each year, athletes will be treated to such delicacies as fajitas, burgers and a pizza-and-movie night.
On Wednesday evening, the action gets under way with a three-point shooting contest and slam dunk competition hosted at the city’s Abelino Montoya Jr. Recreation Center. Tentative start time for the show is 6 p.m.
Then on Thursday, athletes attend the annual North-South banquet. This year’s special guest speaker is Ray Birmingham, head coach of the University of New Mexico baseball team and former coach at New Mexico Junior College.
All that fun serves as a prelude to the main events — the games themselves.
The North girls’ basketball lineup looks to continue its tradition of dominance over the South. Since the first Class 3A North-South girls hoops classic was staged in ‘03, the North has won four of the five games, all held in the friendly confines of the Wilson Complex. In 2007, Pojoaque’s Kara Tafoya and West Las Vegas’ Vera Jo Bustos (both playing now at NCAA Division II Adams State) scored 17 and 15 points, respectively, to help the North take a 91-67 win.
Notably, the South has enjoyed the edge in recent boys’ basketball competitions. The North won three straight from 2001 to 2003, but it’s been all South in the four games since then. Last year, Hope Christian’s dynamic duo of Ryan Gladwell (17 points and multiple assists) and Zach Spangler led the boys in blue to an 86-74 victory.
On the gridiron, too, the South has prevailed, winning five of the last six and leading the series 5-2 overall. In 2006, Chad Roanhaus (now beginning his first year as NMHU head coach) engineered a stunning second-half comeback as the North edged the South 25-20; that ended a four-year run by the South. But the South got back on the winning track last year, nipping the North 7-6 in a defensive struggle. Socorro’s Chato Alvarado collected three catches for 52 yards and picked off a pass to earn MVP honors.