Demons, short on stature, tower over most at shooting

January 28, 2019

If Santa Fe High could petition the New Mexico Activities Association to start a 6-foot-and-under division in boys basketball, it would be the No. 1 team in the state.

That’s not happening, so the Demons will simply settle for being the best little team in the state. Friday’s 71-60 win over Albuquerque Sandia put Santa Fe High in the driver’s seat in District 5-5A, even though it lost its other “big man,” 6-foot-2 Anthony Sisneros, to a knee injury.

The Demons might feel cursed, considering Sisneros could have a strained patella tendon. They lost 6-foot-6 forward Fedonta “J.B.” White to a dislocated patella Jan. 12.

The team will have to make do with freshman P.J. Lovato as its tallest player (6-1) for at least the rest of the regular season, and likely beyond. So, how are the Demons pulling off what seems like the impossible? Well, they might be the best shooting team in Class 5A, if not the state.

Santa Fe High is stocked with 3-point shooters in Antonio Lovato, Christian Kavanaugh, Dove Hernandez, Derrick Solano, Cruz Martinez, Cody Garcia and even Lovato. Because defenses have to account for all of those shooters, the Demons can spread the floor and drive-and-kick opponents into submission. In wins over Albuquerque High and Sandia to open 5-5A play, they knocked down 23 3s in the process.

Santa Fe High faces another challenge Tuesday at home against Albuquerque Manzano, as the Monarchs have just three players under 6-foot. In fact, their short player — 5-9 junior guard Tomas Romero — is as tall as Santa Fe High’s No. 2 post player, Derek Carlton.

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A sign of the times is the steady progression of girls high school wrestling. Gallup’s Miyamura Lady Patriots won this weekend’s Aztec Girls Tournament while Los Alamos placed fourth.

There were 10 teams represented, making it the largest female wrestling event in the state.

Gloria Ramos of Los Alamos won the 143-pound division, scoring a 4-3 decision against Bernalillo’s Aylin Mijares in the finals. Lady Hilltoppers teammate Arianna Maldonado finished fourth in that same weight class after facing Ramos in the second round.

There were six weight divisions in all. Miyamura rolled to the team title with 67 points. Aztec was second with 40, while the combined point totals of Ramos and Maldonado got Los Alamos 22 points, one behind third-place Belen.

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Don’t look now, but high school baseball and softball teams begin preseason workouts a week from Monday on Feb. 2. Games will start before the end of February, and by time the state basketball tournament consumes everyone’s attention, their seasons will be well underway.

If that’s not enough, preseason workouts for golf, tennis and track and field begin Feb. 11.

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It’s not quite a make-or-break scenario for the New Mexico Highlands men’s basketball team, but it’s close.

The Cowboys are in the thick of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference race and with just nine games remaining in the regular season, they open a critical four-game home stretch this Friday and Saturday against UC-Colorado Springs and nationally ranked Colorado School of Mines.

Highlands (14-5, 9-4) is tied for third with UCCS (12-7, 9-4), four games back of Mines (16-3, 13-0). The Cowboys will likely need at least a split to have any realistic shot of winning the league title.

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Looking for an under-the-radar basketball game that could have state tournament implications? Head over to Tierra Amarilla on Saturday and watch the Mora vs. Escalante boys in a key District 5-2A matchup at 5:30 p.m.

Both teams could enter that game with seven-game winning streaks, depending on what happens Thursday (Mora entertains Coronado, while Escalante heads to Peñasco).

It also will be a rematch of the opening-round game of the Northern Rio Grande Tournament on Jan. 3, that saw the Rangers score the last 15 points to pull out a 51-46 win. That was the start of Mora’s winning streak — and the last time the Lobos lost.

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Before the Pecos girls begin their road trip of nearly 1,000 miles on Saturday at Clayton, they will take a test drive out to Rehoboth to play the Lady Lynx on Tuesday. Something Pecos fans might not realize: It’s a longer drive to Rehoboth (214 miles, according to Google Maps) than it is to Clayton (195).

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Santa Fe High senior wing Taylor Salazar gave a verbal commitment Friday to play basketball at Cochise Junior College in Douglas, Ariz.

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