New Mexico girls’ 4A basketball looks to be heating up as the winter break mark is reached. As teams use this time to heal up and rest before the next stretch before district play begins there are plenty of surprises and some traditional powerhouses making statements.
The undeniable favorite has to be the defending 4A champions and currently ranked number one team in the New Mexico High School Coaches Association poll (NMHSCA, http://www.nmhsca.com ) the Kirtland Central (NM) Lady Broncos. District 1 4A Kirtland Central is currently 8-0 and has solid wins over number 3 ranked Gallup (NM) Lady Bengals and perennial powerhouse Shiprock (NM) Lady Chieftains, who finished second to the Lady Broncos in last year’s championship game before dropping to 3A this year. Every early indication is that KC is set to repeat this year at the 4A level.
The District 6 Gallup (NM) Lady Bengals are still a definite early favorite despite a 7-2 record, both losses coming from KC and Roswell. Gallup was bounced by Clovis (NM) in the 2009-2010 state 5A playoffs last season. Moving from 5A to 4A makes them the team to beat in district 6 with returner Justina Prairie Chief, who averaged 11 points per game in her first year at Gallup. The current coaches’ poll places the Lady Bengals at third in state behind last year’s quarterfinalist Roswell (NM, District 4). The Lady Coyotes are currently 6-2 with their only losses to 5A Onate (Las Cruces, NM) and Hobbs (NM).
An early surprise team is the District 6 Grants (NM) Lady Pirates. The Lady Pirates only won eight games all of last season, but are already 9-0 with the help of two forfeits from Piedra Vista (Farmington, NM) who had two players ruled ineligible and have been the only team thus far to defeat Grants on the court. Before forfeiting their first eight games the Piedra Vista Lady Panthers were undefeated and ranked 4th in 4A girls’ basketball. It will be interesting to see how they bounce back without their two transfer standouts. The Lady Pirates are hoping to get two starters healthy over the break and get back to full strength just before district play in hopes of keeping their newly undefeated season going.
The Espanola Valley (Espanola, NM) Lady Sun Devils are currently ranked 6th but have also suffered a loss to Piedra Vista that should also be converted to a forfeit win and are 4-0, but only beat unranked 3A Taos (NM) by two points recently.
The other team quietly taking care of business and playing tough 5A teams is the 5th ranked Del Norte (Albuquerque, NM) Lady Knights. While 5-4 currently, three of the losses are against Volcano Vista (Albuquerque, NM) and Eldorado (Albuquerque, NM) teams that are currently ranked in the top ten of 5A girls’ basketball.
Again, go to http://www.nmhsca.com for the complete poll results. Upcoming games to watch are:
KC vs. Gallup rematch on 1/4/2011
Grants @ Miyamura (Gallup, NM, ranked 9th) on 1/18/2011 and the start of district 6 play