Clovis High boys coach J.D. Isler said his squad will face a team in today’s Class 5A state quarterfinals similar to the one they beat — Gadsden — in Saturday’s first-round game.
The sixth-seeded Wildcats (15-10) meet third-seed Valley (20-9) at 4:45 p.m. today at The Pit in Albuquerque.
Isler said the main difference is that the Vikings are a little stronger inside.
“They’re a solid team,” Isler said. “They’re pretty guard-oriented. The (Michael) Maya kid is a threat to shoot, and he can get shots for other players.”
Despite its somewhat modest record — the Cats have the worst mark in the 5A quarterfinal field — Isler is confident in their chances for a deep run.
“I think it is (wide-open),” he said of the tournament. “I don’t think there’s a clear-cut favorite by any means. I don’t think anybody has a dominant-type player like teams have had in the past.
“I think we match up good with Valley. I like our chances.”
Isler said his team brings some momentum into the event, with its District 4-5A tournament win over Hobbs on Feb. 27 and Saturday’s 60-49 dismissal of Gadsden.
“I think the kids feel good about what we’re doing,” he said. “We feel like we’re playing good and we’re battle-tested, for sure.”
In Class 1A, District 3 representatives Fort Sumner (18-10) and Melrose (17-8) face stiff challenges against District 1 foes. The defending champion Foxes face fourth-seeded Des Moines (21-8) at 4:15 p.m. while the Buffaloes take on third-seeded Springer (22-5) at 7:15 p.m. in games today at Bernalillo High School.
Fort Sumner is hoping for another run like last year, when the Foxes posted a pair of one-point wins en route to their first state basketball title.
Coach John Wootton noted Des Moines led Springer by 10 points late in their district tournament final, but ended up losing 71-61.
“They’re going to come out in a fullcourt, man-to-man press,” he said. “They’re an explosive team — they can score points in a hurry.”
He said seniors Cameron Simmons and Rawley Stallard were key parts on last year’s team, and should lend experience.
“Hopefully, we’ve got enough senior leadership to settle everybody down,” he said. “We just want to play hard and have fun.”
Melrose is making its first trip to The Pit since winning the 2001 title under Jimmy Joe Robinson.
The Buffaloes, led by senior post Clint Barnard, also expect to see an up-tempo opponent.
“They’re just a good team,” Buffs coach Dickie Roybal said of the Red Devils, who lost to Fort Sumner 67-66 in last year’s title tilt. “We’ve got to do a good job of keeping their point guard (sophomore Jacob Romero) in check. We’ll have to play a physical game.
“We’re playing well, but they’ve got the experience in the state tournament. These kids have never been there.”
No. 6 Clovis (15-10) vs. No. 3 Valley (20-9), 4:45 p.m. today at The Pit, Albuquerque
Radio: KCLV-AM 1240, KRMQ-FM 101.5, KTQM-FM 99.9, kclvsports.com.
First round: Clovis defeated Gadsden 60-49 at The Rock. Valley won at home over Rio Rancho 84-71.
Valley players to watch: Santillanes Anthony, 6-0 So. G; Danny Aragon, 6-2 Sr. F; Michael Maya, 6-0 Sr. G.
Of note: Five of Valley’s losses have been by one or two points. Overall, the Vikings are 2-5 in those games. … Valley has not left the Albuquerque area for a game all season. … The Vikings are coming in on a five-game winning streak. Their last loss was a 63-62 decision at La Cueva on Feb. 5. … The Cats routed the Vikings 90-64 at Valley in January 2008, but Valley beat Clovis 59-52 in the semifinals of the Cats’ Southwest Dairy Farmers Classic in late December of that year. … Both teams lost to Hobbs in their most recent trips to the 5A state finals — Valley in 2000, Clovis in 2008.
No. 5 Fort Sumner (18-10) vs. No. 4 Des Moines (21-8), 4:15 p.m. today at Bernalillo H.S.
Radio: KSEL-FM 105.9.
First round: The Foxes crushed Santa Fe Waldorf 78-34 at Santa Fe Prep H.S.. The Demons slipped past District 4-1A champion Logan 59-57 at home.
Des Moines players to watch: Tabor Martinez, 5-11 Sr. G; Jake Doherty, 5-9 Jr. PG; Hunter Martinez, 6-2 Sr. P.
Of note: The Foxes came in as the No. 5 seed last year, but claimed their first state basketball championship with wins over Tatum (61-60), Cliff (68-56) and Springer (67-66). … Five of the eight teams in last year’s field return. The newcomers are Melrose, Gallup Catholic and Mountainair. … Des Moines last won a state title in 2006, beating Logan 72-70 in the finals. The Demons lost to district rival Springer 67-63 in the 2004 title game. … The Martinezes are brothers, while Doherty is the son of Demons coach Jim Doherty.
No. 6 Melrose (17-8) vs. No. 3 Springer (22-5), 7:45 p.m. today at Bernalillo H.S.
Radio: KRMQ-FM 101.5.
First round: The Buffaloes coasted past Evangel Christian 74-47 at home while the Red Devils also won at home, getting past District 4-1A runnerup San Jon 59-41.
Springer players to watch: Jacob Romero, 5-7 So. PG; Isaiah DeHerrera, 5-9 Jr. G; Eric Caldwell, 6-6 Sr. C.
Of note: Both teams come in playing well. The Buffaloes have won six in a row and 11 of their last 13, while Springer has won 12 consecutive games and 16 of its last 18.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner