By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondant
One of the most impressive displays in the opening round came when Pampa sprinted to an 18-8 lead over St. Michael’s in a boys game.
But the Harvesters, who had connected on a pair of 3-point baskets at that point, weren’t done yet.
Guard Braden Barker, who had those previous treys, nailed a long shot from beyond the top of the key for a 23-5 Pampa lead. After teammate Tyler Hall hit a long 3 for a 26-8 advantage, Barker bombed in a shot from beyond the halfcourt line as the first-quarter buzzer sounded.
The 29-8 lead held up as Pampa went on to a 67-55 victory, moving the Horsemen into a 4:10 p.m. semifinal today against Abilene Cooper.
“Anytime you’ve got a six-nine post (Pampa center Jarett Kotara) and you can get him the ball, it should open up the outside a little bit,” Harversters coach Dustin Miller said. “Early, we hit a lot of shots and it went well today.”
La Cueva coach back on bench
The last couple of weeks have been rough for La Cueva girls basketball coach Greg Berger, whose father passed away during the holiday season. Berger, who guided the Bears to a 9-0 start, missed the team’s last two games, both losses.
One was a close setback to Gallup, which is also in the Plateau Classic. The other was to Rio Rancho, a team the Bears had beaten earlier in the season.
But Berger was back Wednesday for his team’s game against Farmington.
“It’s hard when your home and dealing with that kind of stuff, you have all that time to think about what’s going on,” Berger said. “As soon as I got on the sideline, all of that just kind of went away.”
Wall to wall basketball
The Milk Cow and Plateau Classic tournaments are certainly not the only ones being held throughout New Mexico during the week between holidays, but it’s the only case where eight-team boys and girls invitationals are taking place at the same site.
Also beginning on Wednesday were boys tourneys in Hobbs, Alamogordo and Las Cruces. A girls tournament was also started in Las Cruces, but the games in that city were split between Las Cruces High and Onate — with the championship game scheduled Friday for the Pan American Center.