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Copyright 2014 Albuquerque Journal
Albuquerque Journal (New Mexico)
Journal reports

They are the biggest schools in the state - at least when it comes to enrollment. Fan-wise, it's a different story.

Which is why the Class 5A girls tournament is held at Rio Rancho's Santa Ana Star Center until the title game, and why it will likely remain that way in the near future.

Sally Marquez, executive director of the New Mexico Activities Association, says administrators from 5A schools are petitioning, as they do each year, to get their entire tournament moved into the Pit next year. As it is, onlySaturday's championship game is in the Pit. The quarterfinals and semifinals are at the Star Center, where Marquez says they have been held "the past five or six years."

"The issue is not who I want in the Pit," Marquez said. "The issue becomes when people are traveling three and four hours to see a team, I can't have a game in a facility that that's not going to be able to hold the crowd. When you have some of the followings we do in 3A and 4A girls, Santa Ana cannot hold some of those crowds."

Marquez says the Star Center holds fewer than 5,000 for basketball games while the Pit can seat around 13,000.

"A school like Shiprock averages 3,200 fans for normal Tuesday night home games," Marquez says. "And when you have schools like that and Gallup playing in state, the crowds are huge."

During Tuesday's quarterfinals in the Pit, the Class 4A Los Lunas-Miyamura 4:45 p.m. contest at the Pit pretty much filled the west side stands. Then came the real throngs. The Robertson-Shiprock 6:30 p.m. game and the Gallup-Española Valley 8:15 game drew an estimated 9,000.

- Mark Smith

GREAT TIMING: P.J. Bryant, who coached the Grady-House Lady Bronchos to a 53-52 girls Class B victory over Evangel Christian on Tuesday, is expecting her first child. Fortunately, she said, the due date is June 1. There've been no basketball entanglements, and likely, there won't be any.

"It's great timing," she said. "I'll have all summer (before coming back to school)."

Still, she said, coaching the Lady Bronchos while pregnant has not been easy - especially since she lives not in Grady, but in Clovis, about 35 miles away.

"We get done with practice, and I don't get home till 6 o'clock," she said. "... I get home and, oh, man, I'm really exhausted."

- Rick Wright

A BUSY JERSEY: Mayfield's white jerseys feature more than just a school name and number at this week's state tournament. The Trojans are sporting three patches on the front of their jerseys, all in honor of someone who died.

On the right side, the initials AB stand for Alina Bourger, a 2010 Mayfield graduate who died in a car crash in Tucson last April. She was 21 and a student at the University of Arizona.

On the left side of Mayfield's jerseys are two other patches. The first carries the initials MC, for Martha Casaus, the wife of Hobbs coach Johnny Casaus, who passed away Jan. 10.

The final patch honors the daughter of Las Cruces' district athletic director, Ernie Viramontes. Kristina Cathryn Viramontes died the day after Christmas. She was only 13 years old.

- James Yodice

... AND BUSY SHOES: They provide a splash of color to Volcano Vista's black-and-silver uniforms, but the purple shoes sported by the Hawks girls basketball team are not a fashion statement.

The shoes are a tribute to senior Hannah Fenske's father, Jerry, who passed away during her sophomore year after a battle with pancreatic cancer. As pink is recognized as a symbol of the fight against breast cancer, purple is the color for pancreatic cancer awareness.

"I asked the girls before the season if we could wear purple," Fenske said. "They all agreed. It's important to me."

- Ken Sickenger


March 12, 2014




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