By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor
In the shadow of Rockabilly on the Route on Saturday, the girls of Tucumcari’s Finest held a car wash and bake sale in the Radio Shack parking lot next to the Tucumcari Convention Center..
Tucumcari’s Finest, a basketball team of now sixth- and seventh-grade girls from Tucumcari, have qualified for the Ameteur Athletic Union West Coast National Tournament by becoming the runner-up team in New Mexico’s AAU tournaments for girls of that age, accorring to their coach, Joni Jones.
The girls are scheduled to join 500 such teams in the AAU West Coast National Championship tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 17-20.
Jones has been coaching Tucumcari’s AAU girls’ teams for seven years, but this is the first team to win state runner-up title, she said.
Jones is as grateful to the team parents as much as to the girls.
“We’ve all become a family. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive group,” she said. “I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”
Their assistant coach Milton Brown said this year’s team is “a good group,” and described their five-day-a-week routine that includes weight training, laps, sprints, drills and plays.
“They’re really serious about this tournament,” he said.
In two years, he said, these girls are likely to produce championship results for Tucumcari High School.
“They have a very bright future,” he said of the Tucumcari’s Finest team members.
The team members are Ashley Shipley, Amber Rivera, Jasmine Jones, Aaliyah Brown, Melanie Jones, Tori Chavarria, Aliyah Herrera, Lenor Trujillo, Kalani French and Brianna Arias.
Coaches, besides Jones and Brown, include Nemi Salvado and Bo Lopez.