Memorable moments from state will have to tide us over for now

March 14, 2018 GMT

Another state boys and girls basketball tournament has come and gone, but some memories will take a while to fade.

Other images will remain because some things never change. The state tournament is the premier prep event in the state, and is one of the best events in the state. Yes, I am pitting it against the state fair, the Balloon Fiesta and — dare I say it — a University of New Mexico men’s basketball game.

It’s not so much the games themselves as it is the passion the players and the fan bases bring to them. The passion play that goes on for 32 minutes is emblematic of what basketball means to the state.

u u u

Take heart, Santa Fe High fans. The Demons lost to eventual state champion Albuquerque Atrisco Heritage Academy in the opening round, and Santa Fe High team could have very easily pulled off the upset and made their own special run. That Santa Fe High made consecutive state tournament appearances for the first time in 27 years is the best sign yet that the program is healthy. The next step is to find its way to The Pit, and that might happen next year.

u u u

One of the more unfortunate sights of the season was seeing Capital junior Matt Smith in the stands instead of on The Pit floor, where he made a legendary appearance during last year’s run to the 5A championship game. It had to be a bittersweet moment to see the Jaguars fall to Artesia in the 5A quarterfinals. Equally disheartening was seeing Tyler Alarid choke back tears after his 30-point performance in which he hit his final shot in The Pit. It was the first time he didn’t get the Jaguars to Saturday for the 5A championship, but Alarid put in an unforgettable effort.

u u u

The locker room water bottle shower the Pecos Panthers gave themselves after winning the 3A title for the second straight year was a great way to finish an amazing run for seniors Mario Archuleta, Carlos Cordova, Josh DeHerrera, Michael Montaño, Sebastian Gomez and Christian Anaya. They were a part of a state semifinal team in 2016 before back-to-back titles. They set the bar high for any other future class, but it’s hard to top the class that brought home the Panthers’ first state championship in 51 years.

Next year, the path to a 2A title will get much tougher just within Pecos’ district, since it will play runner-up Texico, likely favorite Santa Rosa and Clayton in 7-2A.

You can just call it the toughest district in 2A without playing one game.

u u u

Kudos to the Española Valley fan base. If you check comments on Facebook and nmpreps.com, you’ll notice that Belen fans congratulated the way the Sundevils fans took the 73-65 loss to the Eagles in stride. Some fans need to take a lesson from Sundevil Nation and show some class when your teams loses a game, much less a championship.

Yeah, I said it. Up your game, fans.

u u u

Anyone who thinks Albuquerque Hope Christian won’t win a state title in the new 4A next year needs a reality check. The Huskies routinely play one of the toughest nondistrict schedules in the state, and they will be more than ready to compete.

In fact, until someone beats Hope Christian when it matters the most — at state — consider the program the odds-on favorite to win a seventh straight title.