LA, Deming face off Friday

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By Mike Cote

The Los Alamos Hilltopper girls basketball team didn’t miss having its first round playoff game at Griffith Gym by much.
But not missing it by much doesn’t mean it gets to stay close to home in the opening round.
Los Alamos (16-12) will face the Deming Wildcats in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs. Los Alamos travels to Deming for a Friday night contest.
The playoff schedule was announced Sunday by the New Mexico Activities Association. Brackets were released online on the NMAA’s website, nmact.org.
Hilltopper head coach Ann Stewart said she wasn’t terribly stunned her team slipped down to the No. 9 slot – the highest seed in the 16-team bracket that isn’t awarded a home game – but was scratching her head a little bit that it was Deming that was given the No. 8 spot.
“I was surprised Deming got a higher seed than us,” she said. “We’d been ranked ahead of them for most of the season.”
The Wildcats (17-9) finished as the District 3 champions this season. They were the only District 3 team invited into the playoff field.
However, Stewart said the team could’ve clinched a top-8 spot on its own with a win last Thursday over Española Valley had it won in the semifinal round of the District 2 playoffs, but failed to do so. Los Alamos dropped that game 51-34.
“I think that would’ve made a big difference if we’d gotten that win,” she said. “That game moved (Española Valley) into a top-5 spot...I think it would’ve pushed us there.”
The Sundevils (23-5) upset the top-seeded Santa Fe Demons Saturday night in the district championship game, topping the Demons in Santa Fe by a relatively one-sided score of 72-50 – the two teams split their regular season contests.
With the win, Española Valley clinched the No. 5 spot in the tournament and will host 12th-seeded Grants in the opening round. Santa Fe, which won the district regular season title, has the No. 3 seed but will host the always-dangerous Kirtland Central Broncos, a team that struggled early in the year but won 7 of their last 8 games and swept all of its District 1 games.
In boys 4A, Roswell, as expected, earned the No. 1 overall seed. District 2 champion Bernalillo got the No. 4 seed and Capital, which swooned late in the season, fell to No. 6.
Los Alamos’ boys weren’t invited to participate in the postseason.