Notes from the North

Welcome to the prep basketball season, folks!

Yes, the season officially began last week (apparently, some teams can’t wait to get out on the court after just a week of practice), but everybody pretty much hits the ground running this week. That also means the glut of regular season tournaments is upon us, as well.

Three tournaments grace Northern New Mexico this weekend, with the biggest being the Bobby Rodriguez Capital City Tournament that starts Thursday in Santa Fe High’s Toby Roybal Memorial Gymnasium. The boys bracket features the “Big Four” Santa Fe schools — the host Demons, Capital, St. Michael’s and Santa Fe Indian School — as well as Los Alamos. The girls side has the two city public schools along with Española Valley and Las Vegas Robertson, the reigning Class 3A champion.

The most intriguing opening-day matchup is on the girls side, as 4A schools Portales and Española play each other. The Lady Rams reached the 4A quarterfinals in March, while the Lady Sundevils are coming off a spirited run to the semifinals.

West Las Vegas also has a boys/girls tournament, although the girls side currently has just three teams for its round-robin format. The boys side grew to eight teams and eschewed round-robin play for a bracket setup, and it features both city schools.

The Taos Tigers Shootout also has a Northern flavor for both boys and girls action. Joining the host school in both round-robin formats are Questa, Peñasco and Dexter. Mora is also on the boys side, almost making it a mini-District 5-2A tournament with the Wildcats. The girls tournament is also 5-2A heavy, with Coronado joining the fray.

If tournaments aren’t your thing, you can always head to Academy for Technology and the Classics on Tuesday, as the boys team christens its new gymnasium with a varsity game against Springer.

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Carisa Padilla of St. Michael’s might be on the hardwood for the winter, but the senior secured her college destination two weeks ago. She signed a letter of intent to play golf at Eastern Washington University, an NCAA Division I school that competes in the Big Sky Conference.

Padilla has been a two-time state individual champion (2017 in Class 4A and a 3A crown in May) and was a part of back-to-back team titles in 2017 and 2018 in 4A.

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The Northern New Mexico men’s basketball team is almost done with its gauntlet through the NCAA Division II and Division I schools. The NAIA school in Española played its last six games against Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference teams (New Mexico Highlands and Adams State twice, Metro State and Fort Lewis), failing to win any of them. On Saturday, the Eagles play Division I school Northern Colorado to cap the most daunting part of its schedule.

Of the first 12 regular-season and two exhibitions games on its schedule, Northern New Mexico scheduled nine of them against NCAA schools. While its record is 1-10, the program can boast a win over Division II school Western New Mexico.

However, the Eagles gave the Grizzlies a scare, losing by 77-74 and 74-71 scores. Against Metro State, Northern New Mexico tied the score at 74-all before the Roadrunners scored the last three points for a 77-74 win.

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The New Mexico High School Coaches Association announced volleyball’s All-State selection last week, and Northern New Mexico was well represented. Class 3A’s first-team selections were dominated by state runner-up St. Michael’s and champion Las Vegas Robertson, as they combined for nine of the 11 spots up for grabs.

The two teams swept the outside hitter position (Lily Barker for the Lady Horsemen, Shayla Hillis and Jayden Jenkins for Robertson) and at setter (the Lady Cardinals’ Lauren Fulgenzi and Molly Maestas of St. Michael’s). Tessa Ortiz (Robertson) and Amber Marboug (St. Michael’s) were first team middle hitters, while Dominque Ortega (Robertson) and Simone Edwards (St. Michael’s) earned libero honors.

Santa Fe Prep’s Raelyn Gonzales was a second-team outside hitter. Alexa Griego of St. Michael’s and Jadyn Romero of Robertson were second-team liberos.

The only other Northern athlete to earn first-team designation was Los Alamos’ Natalie Gallegos as a middle hitter. Pojoaque Valley’s Ashten Martinez was a second-team selection in the middle.

Pecos’ Sativa Herrera was the lone selection on the 2A squad, as she was a second-team outside hitter.

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Miquela Martinez capped a stellar freshman season at Felician University with another honor, as she was selected as a second-team setter on the All-Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference team on Nov. 21.

She was one of four Golden Falcons to make the team, as Felician won the North Division regular-season championship and reached the conference tournament semifinals. Martinez set a school record with 1,005 assists on the season.

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