District 3-1A race suddenly tight

Melrose’s Jeremy Weese drives to the basket past a Texico defender during the second quarter during last Thursday’s game in Melrose. Texico defeated Melrose 56-43. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

The Melrose boys could have earned at least a tie for the No. 1 seed in the District 3-1A tournament with a win over Fort Sumner on Tuesday.

Instead, the Buffaloes fell 64-59 in overtime to the Foxes, creating an interesting final two weeks of the regular season.

With its first district loss, Melrose (4-1, 15-6) leads Fort Sumner (15-7, 4-2) by a half game.

Melrose coach Casey Pack is confident his team can earn the No. 1 seed.

“We’re still in first and Fort Sumner’s still in second,” Pack said. “If we take care of business and we win our next three, we’ll be fine.”

Taking care of business for Melrose means hitting free throws. The Buffaloes missed four of six free throws in the final minute of regulation.

Defending champion Floyd (12-11, 3-3) is lurking 1 1/2 games back.

“It’s getting fuzzy, a little bit tight,” Floyd coach Jeff Gillespie said. “Fort Sumner beating Melrose opened everything up.

“Fort Sumner might be the No. 1 seed, you never know,” he said. “It could come down to a three-team tiebreaker, it could come down to a four-game tiebreaker for second place.”

Floyd has games remaining against Melrose and Dora.

The regular-season champion earns a bye to the district tournament title game and an automatic spot in the regional tournament.

Pack added the No. 1 seed has a week to practice and get healthy.

In the girls race, top-ranked Fort Sumner (22-0, 6-0) would clinch the regular-season title with a win Tuesday at Elida (15-6, 5-1).

The Vixens have won their district games by an average of 33 points.

Elida coach Dan Howard said Fort Sumner’s trapping defense is its big weapon. The Lady Tigers’ only district loss was 56-29 at Fort Sumner two weeks ago.

“We could get it down to half court, then they make you do things you’re not accustomed to,” Howard said. “They take you out of your offense.”

Howard said composure and patience is the key against the Vixens.

“If you try to beat it with one pass, you’re going to be trouble,” Howard said.