Two-time defending Class 2A state champion Texico found itself a bit of a surprising No. 1 seed for this year’s eight-team get-together in Albuquerque.
Meantime, in Class 1A Fort Sumner faces top-seeded Cimarron and sixth-seeded Elida takes on upstart Gallup Cathoilc.
Texico (21-7), which routed Jal 44-20 on Friday in the round of 16, continues its bid for a third consecutive 2A title with a 3 p.m. quarterfinal matchup against Penasco (14-15).
The game is a rematch of the 2007 finals, won by the Lady Wolverines 41-38.
After losing to Santa Rosa 33-29 in the District 6-2A tournament finals, first-year Texico coach Ryan Autrey wasn’t anticipating the top seed.
“I was kind of figuring a No. 2 seed (behind Navajo Prep, which ended up with the second seed),” Autrey said. “Everybody’s up here for a reason. Realistically, everybody has a chance for the championship.”
Texico defeated Navajo Prep 55-45 to win the 2A championship last season.
Penasco has a young roster, with only one senior, and Autrey admits he doesn’t know much about the Lady Panthers. Penasco does, however, come in having won four in a row and 11-of-14 after a 3-12 start.
Fort Sumner (20-9) has been on a roll of late, winning four in a row and 13-of-16.
“I feel like the girls have gotten better through the year,” Vixens assistant coach Joel Wood said. “They’re (Lady Rams) super-tough with their fullcourt pressure defense, and I think they’ve got (easily) one of the best small-school players in the state in (senior guard) Whitney Coca.”
Wood said Coca, who helped Cimarron (22-1) win state championships in 2006 and 2007, is one of several seniors forming the core of the team.
“She’s the real deal,” he said. “She can shoot 3-pointers or go to the basket.”
Cimarron’s only loss this season was a 72-59 decision to Pojoaque, the top seed in the state Class 3A tournament, in the semifinals of a tournament at Pojoaque in December.
Elida coach Dan Howard made several calls Monday morning trying to find out about Gallup Catholic (24-4).
Here’s what he learned about the Panthers: “Short and quick and likes to shoot the three. Patient on offense.”
Hardly information overload but typical of a scouting report on a team on the other side of the state
Howard thought his team deserved a little higher seed, but he’s not complaining.
“We couldn’t have asked for a better matchup,” Howard said.
“This is the most even Class 1A state tournament I’ve seen,” said Howard, who has Elida (20-9) in the quarterfinals for the fourth-straight year. “Any team, I think, is capable of winning it all.”
He did rate Cimarron and Cliff as slight favorites.
Howard said getting off to a good start will likely be the key in how far his team goes.
“If we get tapped off right, we can beat anybody up there if we play aggressive,” Howard said. “But if we start off shaky, it can be a pretty long night.
“This is the hardest team to read I’ve ever had."
New Mexico state basketball tournament
At Bernalillo H.S.
(8) Fort Sumner vs. (1) Cimarron, 7:15 p.m.
(5) Animas vs. (4) Magdalena, 5:30 p.m.
(6) Elida vs. (3) Gallup Catholic, 2 p.m.
(2) Cliff vs. (7) Des Moines, 3:45 p.m.