With the exception of the Elida boys and girls, it was one-and-done for Roosevelt County teams at the state basketball tournament in Albuquerque last week.
Despite the less than stellar state tournament, five Roosevelt County squads advanced to New Mexico’s quarterfinals.
For the first time in 22 years, the Portales Lady Rams were without Brenda Gomez, but first-year head coach Clay Stout didn’t miss a beat.
Stout infused his blend of ball-control offense, and after a rough start, Stout led his girls to an undefeated District 4-3A season, a district championship, and a state first-round home victory against West Las Vegas that came with a price. The Portales girls won 14 of their final 16 games.
The Lady Rams lost junior point guard Tara Johnson to a knee injury in their state first-round contest against West Las Vegas, and the Portales girls state tournament was over, almost before it began. The second-seeded Lady Rams lost 41-35 to 10th-seeded Santa Fe Indian School.
“It’s a tribute and a credit to these girls,” Stout said. “They never quit, they never gave up ... It’s not fun changing systems and getting out of your comfort zone.”
The fifth-seeded Rams’ state tournament was quick as well, losing in the quarterfinals to No. 4 West Las Vegas, 67-59. But like the Lady Rams, coach Mark Gallegos’ team entered the state tournament playing its best basketball, winning 12 of the last 13 games.
“I’m real proud of our kids,” Gallegos said. “If you look back, I think a lot of people weren’t sure how far we could go. I knew that as young as we were, that by the end of the year we would have a chance to win another district championship and get to the state tournament.”
The Tigers and Lady Tigers of Elida were the only teams from Roosevelt County who advanced to the state semifinals. Both teams cruised through their pre-district schedule and their district schedule on the way to the tournament. Both teams won District 3-1A tournament titles.
The second-seeded Elida girls beat seventh-seeded Grady in the state quarterfinals 57-49, before getting upset in the semifinals by sixth-seeded Magdalena in overtime, 60-58.
The fourth-seeded Tigers’ state experience was similar, taking out the defending state champion Gateway Christian Warriors in the quarterfinals, 75-66, before being eliminated by top-seeded Cliff, 68-54.
“It was a great year,” Elida boys coach Darrell Chenault said. “We had a great run. We’re already looking forward to next year.”
The Dora Coyotes also appeared headed for a special season, but were beaten by Elida in the district tournament championship contest, before losing their state quarterfinal game to sixth-seeded Animas 81-61.
“The kids came along and proved that they were capable of being a championship team,” Dora coach Ty Thatcher said. “We just came up a little bit short, but I think we made a good run at it and showed that we deserved to be there.”