District 2-5A fills state basketball tourney with contenders

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By Phil Scherer

Though Los Alamos High School failed to make the state championship tournament in either boys’ or girls’ basketball, the Hilltoppers’ district rivals will be well represented.

District 2-5A will have three teams in the boys’ tournament and two teams in the girls’ tournament.

The boys’ tournament, which begins at home sites March 3, features No. 1 seed Española Valley, No. 4 seed Capital and No. 11 seed Del Norte.

Española Valley enters the tournament as the undisputed favorite in the tournament after going 25-1 in the regular season. The team also went undefeated in district play, going 8-0 and winning the district tournament. The team’s only loss of the season came against Rio Rancho High School in mid-January.

Most impressively, the Sundevils defeated No. 4 seed Capital three times in the regular season in convincing fashion, 83-65 in Española, 90-66 in Santa Fe and 75-63 in the district tournament championship game.

Española Valley will kick off the tournament at home Saturday against Valencia High School, the tournament’s No. 16 seed.

The Sundevils enter the tournament as the state-championship favorites, with few challengers appearing able to keep up with its high powered attack for an entire game. A possible challenge could come in the state championship game against No. 2 seed Los Lunas.

Outside of its struggles against Española Valley, Capital had an impressive regular season, going 21-7 overall and 5-3 in district play. However, the team struggled a bit down the stretch, losing its first matchup with Del Norte and winning the rematch by 2 points.

Capital will begin the tournament with a home matchup against No. 13 Miyamura Saturday, with a possible fourth matchup with Española Valley looming in the state semifinals next week.

Del Norte rebounded from a rough non-district schedule to have great success in district play, going 5-3 and picking up an important win against Capital.

Overall, the team is 11-15 and enters the state tournament as the No. 11 seed. The Knights will begin the tournament with a road matchup against No. 6 Roswell Saturday.

On the girls’ side, Española Valley is the No. 7 seed after going 15-11, and 7-1 in district play. The Sundevils found great success in close games in district play, going 6-1 in games decided by 10 points or fewer. Española Valley will begin tournament play Friday night at home against Belen.

Capital is 2-5A’s other qualifier, earning the No. 14 seed. The Jaguars went 14-14 overall and 5-3 in district play. In the district tournament championship game, Capital lost by just 3 points to Española Valley, 45-42.

The Jaguars will begin the tournament with a road game against No. 3 seed Gallup Friday.

Both tournaments begin this week before moving to Dreamstyle Arena in Albuquerque for the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals next week. The girls’ tournament will wrap up March 9 at 7:30 p.m., and the boys’ tournament will conclude March 10 at 2 p.m.