MELROSE — District 3 will be well-represented in the upcoming Class 1A boys state basketball tournament.
District tournament champion Melrose opened a 21-2 first-quarter lead Saturday night and cruised to a 74-47 win over Evangel Christian. Earlier Saturday, district regular-season winner and defending 1A state champ Fort Sumner obliterated Santa Fe Waldorf 78-34.
In Melrose, senior post Clint Barnard scored 16 of his game-high 22 points in a first half, which ended with the Buffaloes up 40-15 over the outmanned Eagles. The Buffaloes (17-8) extended their winning streak to six games since back-to-back losses to Fort Sumner and Floyd in early February.
“We were sloppy tonight,” Buffs coach Dickie Roybal said. “We didn’t play the way we played last week (in winning the district tournament).”
Melrose’s pressure overwhelmed Evangel Christian (9-19). Senior Sammy Lawrence hit the first of the Buffs’ 10 3-pointers on Melrose’s first possession, and two quick turnovers resulted in layups for a 7-0 lead in the first 36 seconds.
“Pressure (defense) is one of the main things we do,” said Barnard, who quarterbacked Melrose to consecutive state 8-man football titles. “We have to do that (going forward) if we want to get to the next level.”
The Eagles played more competitively in the second half, but never got the margin under 18 points despite the fact that junior guard Matt Macias had five 3-pointers and scored 23 of his game-high 25 points in the final two periods.
“We got down early and could not bounce back,” Eagles coach Brad Bristol said. “Thirty-three (Barnard) killed us. We’ve played 3A, 4A and 5A schools this year, and there’s only one kid we saw who moves like he does.”
Barnard, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 14-2 with 3 1/2 minutes left in the first quarter, said the Buffs have finally gotten into a basketball groove.
“It took us a while to transition from football to basketball,” he said, “but we’re getting better as the season goes on.”
Senior guard Hayden Huber added three 3-pointers and 14 points for the Buffs, while Lawrence scored 10 points.
Teams will be reseeded today for Wednesday’s quarterfinals at Bernalillo High School. Roybal said he anticipates a No. 6 seed for his squad and a possible first-round matchup with either Tatum or Springer.
Fort Sumner 78, Waldorf 34 — At Santa Fe Prep, the Foxes’ pressure also ran the opposition off the floor. Senior post Dax Moyer was the main beneficiary, scoring 16 of his game-high 26 points in an opening period which ended with Fort Sumner up 36-8.
Fort Sumner stole the ball on Waldorf’s first five possessions and opened a 10-0 lead. Junior post Caleb West and sophomore forward Kolter West each added 12 points for the Foxes (18-10).
Senior forward Maclean Barnard led the Wolves (11-10) with nine points.