Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 State Basketball Championships: A capsules look at local Round 1 games

With the 2012 State Basketball Championships tipping off Friday, we take a look at local teams in their respective classifications, and how they stack up against their immediate competition.

Class 3A

Who: No. 11 Ruidoso at No. 6 Hatch Valley
When: Friday, 6 p.m.
The skinny: Hatch Valley went 21-4 this season, including a 9-0 mark in District 3-3A play. Ruidoso finished 17-10 overall, 3-3 in District 4-3A. Hatch beat Ruidoso by nearly 20 points in both their head-to-head contests this year.

Class 5A
Who: No. 12 Oñate at No. 5 Hobbs
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
The skinny: The Knights have a tough bracket to navigate, playing at Hobbs and then — if able to spring the upset — most likely having to face district rival Mayfield at The Pit. Still, Oñate is an improved team — this is the second-straight season they’ve made state tournament — and, with a full complement of players outside of injured guard Kelsie Niehoff, could battle the Eagles. With that being said, Hobbs is a good club and a tough one to beat on the road.

Who: No. 9 Cleveland at No. 8 Las Cruces High
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
The skinny: In actuality, it’s been a pretty successful year for the Bulldawgs, who finished second in the District 3-5A regular-season standings and were granted a home playoff game. They have a great player in Samantha Mendoza, although have trouble with the bigger teams on their schedule. This home game won’t be a layup for LCHS.

Who: No. 13 Rio Rancho at No. 4 Mayfield
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
The skinny: It’s tough seeing the Trojans losing this game. And a victory would put them back in a familiar spot — in The Pit, contending for a state championship. The Trojans have played in the championship game six times in the past nine years.

Class 2A

Who: No. 15 Tohatchi at No. 2 Mesilla Valley Christian
When: Saturday, 5 p.m.
The skinny: Located in northern New Mexico, Tohatchi is by and large an unknown. A team with a 15-11 overall record, they’ll make the trip to Las Cruces to play a championship program on the road. Don’t expect this mystery opponent to hold down the SonBlazers.

Class 4A
Who: No. 10 Los Lunas at No. 7 Santa Teresa
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
The skinny: The Desert Warriors have some size, anchored by District 3-4A Player of the Year Adrian Ortegon. A disciplined team led by head coach Bob Haack, Santa Teresa made it to The Pit last season, and open the 2012 postseason on their homecourt.

Class 5A
Who: No. 15 Oñate at No. 2 Albuquerque High
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
The skinny: Simply because of their style of play — a slowed-down pace — the Knights have a chance to keep this game relatively close. These two teams met earlier in the year, with the Bulldogs winning 40-28. The Knights have improved since then and, while an upset seems unlikely, it’s not out of the question either.

Who: No. 12 Mayfield at No. 5 Eldorado
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
The skinny: A tough first-round draw for the Trojans, who managed to move up to the No. 12 seed, only to get rewarded with a talented Eldorado team. Guard Cullen Neal is a big and skilled player at his position, while Zachary Lee brings athleticism to the frontcourt. Not the ideal matchup for the feisty Trojans.

Who: No. 16 Rio Rancho at No. 1 Las Cruces High
When: Saturday, 7 p.m.
The skinny: Facing Rio Rancho won’t necessarily be an easy game for the Bulldawgs — well, maybe not. Still, Las Cruces High has all the pieces of a No. 1-ranked team, and doesn’t seem likely to get tripped up against a No. 16 seed.

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