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State tournaments open this weekend

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By Dave Kavanaugh

West Las Vegas senior Linda Esquibel learned this week she’s the recipient of a $2,500 scholarship from the New Mexico Activities Association.

Now she’s hoping the scholarship is a good omen for herself and her fellow Lady Dons, who open the Class 3A girls’ state tournament at home 7 p.m. Friday against Hatch Valley.

West (24-4), coached by Jose Medina and his staff, is the No. 4 seed in the tournament; Hatch the No. 13 seed. This is the teams’ first meeting this season.

Hatch, coached by Sara Davis, have a 10-15 record and finished the year riding a four-game win streak that included two victories over a solid Socorro bunch.

Like a certain District 2-3A team WLV knows, the Bears are long on size but short on experience. Three of the Bears — Jessica Gomez, Audrey Hackey, and Kelcie Carson — are listed at 5-10. Only one senior, Gomez, and one junior, Marlene Zuniga, are on the roster.

West’s defensive effort was particularly impressive in a district tournament final win at Santa Fe Indian. The Lady Dons, who use plenty of presses and zone looks, relied largely on man-to-man D in beating the Lady Braves.

In other first-round action Friday, the Robertson girls and coach Aunna Bradley will visit the No. 1 Portales Lady Rams.

The Lady Cardinals (11-15) have not played Portales (16-8) to date.

Pecos, champs in girls’ 4-2A, host Rehoboth at 6 p.m. Mora, runners-up to Pecos, travels to Navajo Pine.

Saturday, it’s the boys’ turn.

No. 11 seed Robertson and coach David Bustos open at No. 6 Tohatchi. The Cardinals (18-9) and Cougars (20-5) are playing for the first time this season.

The Mora Rangers and first-year coach Hank Laumbach will host Rehoboth 5 p.m. Saturday.

Coach Clyde Sanchez’s Pecos Panthers, the runner-up to Mora, will visit Navajo Pine at 2 that afternoon.

In 2A, the eight teams in each bracket who win this weekend will be reseeded on Sunday, March 7, before the tourneys (in all classifications) shift to Albuquerque.