Notes from the North

You could make the argument that it has all been downhill in more ways than one since the night of Nov. 14, 2015.

That, of course, was the night sports in our little part of the universe was pretty darn awesome. Within minutes of one another, Holly Holm won a UFC title belt by making Ronda Rousey go nighty-night with a foot to the neck and the Lobo football team shocked Boise State on the Smurf turf.

The next day, the UNM men’s basketball team beat New Mexico State on its way to a 7-2 start, a season that would fall apart soon thereafter.

Since then, Holm has lost five of her seven fights and hasn’t won in nearly 11/2 years. The Lobo football team did manage nine wins in 2016 but have lost 26 of their last 33 and have seen attendance continue to drop at an alarming rate. Basketball has hovered around .500 and not sniffed the postseason.

Heck, even the Albuquerque Isotopes have fallen on hard times.

They’ve had four straight losing seasons, getting progressively worse every year as attendance has slowly declined. Same, too, for our very own Santa Fe Fuego.

The New Mexico United made a splash in their inaugural season but it came after UNM failed miserably at rehabbing its public relations image by cutting soccer and continuing to struggle with budget issues and fan support.

There is bright light at the end of the tunnel, though. High school basketball season is just days away and, by all accounts, all three of the city’s top teams — Santa Fe High, Capital and St. Michael’s — could make deep runs into the madness that is March.

No pressure though.

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Miquela Martinez’s freshman year in college couldn’t have gone any better.

The 2019 St. Michael’s graduate and Class 3A All-State volleyball player continues to make her mark on the court at Felician University in Lodi, N.J. Two weeks ago, she broke the school record for most assists in a season when she passed Nicole Degenhardt’s mark of 793 and upped to mark to 927 to complete the regular season.

On Saturday, she helped guide the Golden Falcons to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference North Division regular-season championship after beating Jefferson in four games. Martinez had 37 assists and 12 digs as the program beat Jefferson for the first time in its 16-year history as well as secured its first division title.

Felician begins its march through the conference tournament Tuesday at home against Wilmington.

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If you paid $15 for the day pass to the state volleyball tournament, it was a worthwhile investment. All three days of the tournament saw action begin at 8 a.m. and end past 11 p.m. The opening night saw Santa Fe High and Albuquerque Volcano Vista play a Class 5A quarterfinal until about 11:10 p.m. before the Lady Hawks won in five games. Friday had both Class 5A consolation matches finish in the 11 o’clock hour, with the Las Cruces-Albuquerque Sandia match lasting until 11:40.

If it wasn’t for the five-game Class 3A battle between Las Vegas Robertson and St. Michael’s, Saturday would have ended around 10 p.m. Albuquerque La Cueva swept Las Cruces Centennial for the 5A crown, while Albuquerque St. Pius X did the same to Albuquerque Academy in the 4A bracket. Both matches were done by 10 p.m. Meanwhile, the Lady Cardinals and the Lady Horsemen played until 11:15 p.m., when Tessa Ortiz hammered home the championship kill to cap a 20-25, 25-18, 25-23, 21-25, 15-8 win.

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Don’t look now, but the New Mexico Highlands University men’s basketball team is off to a 3-0 start in the regular season under first-year head coach Mike Dominguez after beating Western New Mexico, 74-71, on Nov. 13.

Dominguez, a 2005 Capital graduate, will see his Cowboys get a chance to improve to 4-0 on the season when NAIA’s Northern New Mexico College on Monday in the John A. Wilson Complex, but beware. Northern New Mexico’s lone win of the season came against WNMU.

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Former UNM men’s basketball coach Gary Colson was back in The Pit this week, taking a look at the college basketball holy ground that has made the school a destination spot for hardcore fans everywhere.

After watching the Lobos beat up on Green Bay, a game in which UNM guard JaQuan Lyle scored 31 points, Colson said he’d head back home to California and drop a line to his close friend Jerry West.

Yes, that Jerry West. The logo. The legend. The man who built the Showtime Lakers and currently works as an executive with the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I’m going to tell Jerry to take a close look at this kid,” Colson said of Lyle, a 6-foot-5 senior who is averaging 19 points through UNM’s first four games. “He’s a great player.”

Anyone who has seen the Lobos early on would probably have a hard time disagreeing.

Next time you’re in The Pit, might want to keep an eye out for the literal face of the NBA.

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