Teams enter do-or-die situations in regionals

By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun

The Logan boys, Tucumcari boys and Logan girls are all one win away from a state-tournament berth with regional tournaments coming up this weekend.

That’s where the similarities begin and end for the teams, which could be in action Thursday through Saturday in the qualifying weekend for the state basketball tournament.

The team in the best position would certainly be the Longhorns. By virtue of winning the District 4-1A championship, the Logan boys squad (22-4) is hosting the Class 1A Region A tournament.

“That’s something we’ve had our sights on the whole year, being able to host the regional,” Logan coach Billy Burns said.

The Longhorns face District 3-1A runner-up Melrose (17-10) in a 5 p.m. Thursday semifinal. Grady (16-12) and Fort Sumner (22-3) clash in the other semifinal at 7 p.m. The Foxes have won 16-straight games since losing to Logan in the Eastern Plains Athletic Conference tournament.

Semifinal winners both earn state tournament berths, and the 7 p.m. championship game will determine seeding for the state tournament.

Burns said an ideal game for the Longhorns is to have good ball movement, with five to six players in double figures. To beat the Buffaloes, Burns said defense matters as well.

“You have to get back,” Burns said. “They’re fast. They get up the floor really well. They’ve got probably one of the fastest kids in 1A in Carlos Ruiz.”

The Tucumcari Rattlers had the chance to host the Class 2A Region C Tournament, but lost out to Santa Rosa for the District 6-2A title. Instead, the Rattlers travel to Santa Rosa for a 6 p.m. Friday showdown with Eunice.

Rattler coach John Span said Monday night he hadn’t yet received game films of the Cardinals, but he expects an up-tempo game.

“I heard they press a lot. The press hasn’t bothered us too much this year. We don’t mind being pressed.”

With a win, Tucumcari (16-11) would play in its first state tournament since 1990. Even with that in mind, Span said he wants to treat the game like any other matchup.

“We’ve just got to line up and play basketball,” Span said. “They know what’s at stake.”

Should Tucumcari win, it would play a 6 p.m. Saturday game against the winner of Friday’s other semifinal between Dexter and Santa Rosa.

The Lady Longhorns are in the least enviable position, on the road for the Class 1A Region A Tournament. Logan (15-14) plays top-seeded Elida in a 4 p.m. Friday game.

Logan coach Russell Feerer said it was going to be a tough matchup no matter who won the 3-1A title.

“I think that either team we would have faced would have been a tough matchup,” Feerer said. “I watched the game and Melrose was up 12 at one point.

“You get to this point in the season and everybody’s going to be good.”

Melrose (12-16) and Grady (17-8) play in the other semifinal, with the championship at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Feerer said the Lady Longhorns are playing their best basketball of the season going in, which is good news coming into a game with Elida (21-2).

“They kind of live and die by the 3,” Feerer said. “We want to put pressure on them, get a hand in their face. If you leave them wide open, they’re going to have success.”