As far as Class 2A is concerned, Texico is Title Town.
The border town's boys and girls completed a clean sweep last weekend in the state basketball tournament, which featured 11 teams from Roosevelt and Curry County schools.
The Texico girls finished off a repeat of 2007, holding off Navajo Prep 55-45 without coach Keith Durham. After Durham was ejected from Texico’s semifinal win over Mora and was forced to sit out the title game, assistant and 2001 Texico grad Ryan Autrey took the reins.
“Those girls knew what to do,” Durham said. “They never panicked, they stayed focused and determined.”
In never losing to a Class 2A opponent, the girls put together a 28-2 season.
The Wolverines, meanwhile, had to unseat a champion — the Mesilla Valley Son Blazers. Texico (26-5) seemed to out-execute their opponents and claimed a 68-65 victory. The Wolverines jumped to an 8-0 lead and never trailed, committed just nine fouls and shot 20-of-20 from the free-throw line.
“I didn’t think we’d have to play perfect to beat them,” Texico boys coach Richard Luscombe said, “but we just about did have to.”
The Clovis boys, meanwhile, were defeated in the Class 5A title game by Hobbs, 73-71.
Clovis (29-2) dropped the game in heartbreaking fashion, as a deflected inbounds pass with 15 seconds left turned into a Hobbs fast break, and two free throws for Josh Sanders broke a tie for the last time at The Pit.
The state championship was the ultimate goal, but there were plenty of silver linings in the season — a school record for attendance, a record 25-game winning streak and the winningest season in Wildcat history.
Clovis coach J.D. Isler said those things were products of great leadership and players accepting their roles.
“They had phenomenal chemistry,” Isler said. “I think it starts by having a genuine love for each other. I’ve coached 22 years and they were by far the most unselfish team I’ve ever coached.”
It was a season of firsts for Clovis Christian basketball teams.
The girls and boys squads each made their first appearance in Albuquerque for the state tournament. Both, however, were No. 8 seeds matched up against top-seeded Cliff.
Both teams absorbed quarterfinal losses — the boys took a 76-40 setback against the Cowboys, while the girls endured a 60-39 defeat.
“We did a lot of firsts this year,” Clovis Christian boys coach Randy McBroom said of his squad, which finished 16-13, “and a lot of times they say the hardest one to get is the first one.”
Prior to its loss against the top-seeded Cowgirls, the Lady Eagles had won 10 of their last 11 games to make a playoff push. The team ended the season with a 16-14 record.
“I really thought things went well for us,” CCS coach Max Kralicek said “We got a slow start, but I thought we played well at the end.”
McBroom, meanwhile, said the 31-0 Cowboys were just a level ahead of everyone else in Class 1A. However, he was happy with the effort he got from senior Keeson Bell, who fought off strepthroat, and the rest of the team in staying close with Cliff for a half.
“I felt good about my kids," McBroom said." I felt like we played them a great half of basketball. When you get to that level, you’ve got to play two halves.”
Curry County’s other representative, the Grady Bronchos, had a tough first-round matchup with second-seeded Elida.
Grady stayed with Elida, tying the game at 40 after three quarters at Rio Rancho High School. But the Lady Tigers proved too tough, starting the fourth with a 10-0 run to set up a 57-49 win
The Grady girls lost three of their final four games, but set themselves up for a playoff push with nine wins in 10 games prior to consecutive losses against Clovis Christian. The team posted an 18-11 mark and will graduate just one senior, guard Katarina Grau.