Tuesday, November 13, 2012

District 3-5A basketball: Breaking down the local district with the season officially here

(Kai Williams and the Bulldawgs powered through District 3-5A a season ago/Photo by Shari V. Hill)

Will the 2012-13 high school basketball season be any different in District 3-5A? Last year it was straight-forward: Las Cruces High School in the boys division and Mayfield High School in the girls. League supremacy for each school swiftly followed.

At least at the outset, that power grid appears to remain in place. Still, perhaps a darkhorse team or two can rise up and make things interesting.

With that, a brief preview of our local district, with the new season set to tip off tonight.

Las Cruces High: This team was loaded last year and looks strong once again. Joseph Garza returns at point guard and Kai Williams and Trevor Noel are back in the frontcourt. Last year the Bulldawgs had a disappointing loss in the quarterfinals to Clovis. They’re still looking to hang their first high school boy’s hoops championship banner since 1976.

Mayfield: The Trojans have a fine head coach in Tommy Morrow but from a personnel standpoint much is unknown. Their two best players from a season ago, Taylor Gibbs and Orlando Benavente Verdugo, are gone. Morrow often gets the max out of the minimum, and might have to do as much again.

Oñate: The Knights had some talent a season ago, finishing third in District 3-5A regular-season play despite the likes of Brandon Rosales, Sammy Barnes and Daemund McCants making up the roster. This year Barnes is gone (he moved to Tucson) while Rosales graduated. Similar to Mayfield, the Knights roster is somewhat of an unknown.

Alamogordo: A former head coach with a successful track record, Mike Day returns to the Tigers. Could Alamo be a darkhorse team in District 3-5A? Perhaps. The community has a history of having athletes and also some basketball success. Such assets simply haven’t risen to the forefront in recent years.

Gadsden: Simply put, the Panthers weren’t good a season ago. With that, they’ve had some past years of competitive play. Could a surprise year in high school football inspire a similar push on the hardwood? Looking for such motivation can’t hurt.

Mayfield: The Trojans return a good frontcourt headlined by Daeshi McCants and Allie Pierce. Mayfield has a tried and true system and winning tradition — a top-notch program. No reason to expect George Maya’s team to slow down in 2012.

Las Cruces High: The question becomes, what does the Bulldawg roster look like going into 2012-13? Scoring machine Samantha Montoya graduated (she won District 3-5A Player of the Year a season ago) and the team was very undersized last year. LCHS is always a well-coached team, and figures to have some shooters once again.

Oñate: Similar to the Bulldawgs, if the Knights have the pieces on their roster to put together a good team, they likely will. They did lose a lot from a season ago — in the form of graduation (Alexyss Burkhartsmeier was their top player) and some defections to Centennial High School.

Alamogordo: The Tigers should be improved under second-year head coach Fernando Sanchez. All five starters are back for Alamogordo and, while the team might not necessarily compete for a district title, expecting them to make a move in league is fair.

Gadsden: The Panthers were a team that played hard last season and advanced to the District 3-5A championship game before narrowly losing to Mayfield (as the No. 5-seed in district, GHS missed out on the state playoffs). They must replace some corps players, however, including leader Nathalie Castellanos.

Follow me on Twitter @TeddyFeinberg

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