By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Fort Sumner has had plenty of experience winning state football championships in recent years.
Now the Foxes hope to add a Class 1A basketball title to their trophy case.
They can take a big step tonight when they face Grady in a Region A semifinal game at Logan.
Semifinal winners qualify for next week’s state tournaments in Albuquerque. Regional finals on Saturday will go toward determining seeds.
Fort Sumner hasn’t lost since falling to Logan 60-48 in an EPAC tournament semifinal game on Jan. 6 in Portales. The Foxes’ other losses were to 2A opponents, as were all but one of Logan’s setbacks.
District 3-1A champion Fort Sumner (22-3) has beaten Grady (16-12) soundly twice, including once at EPAC, but Foxes coach Wes Weems said his team has to be ready.
“We’ve just got to execute and do the things we’ve been doing,” he said. “In the playoffs, you can’t take anything for granted.”
Weems admitted he’s a little surprised by his team’s record, but said the Foxes’ goal all along has been to add a state basketball title to the one they got in football in November.
“I’m kind of proud of these guys,” he said. “They’ve given themselves their own goals, and they’ve been equal to the challenges.”
Melrose faces a challenging road at District 4-1A champion Logan (22-4).
“I feel (Fort Sumner and Logan) two of the best teams in the state,” Pack said. “We’ve got to do a better job of controlling the boards and controlling tempo.
“My seniors have done a good job of playing well in crucial times. I couldn’t ask for any better.”
The Buffaloes (17-10) are seeking a third consecutive state berth.
While Texico’s girls meet a team they handled easily 57-30 at home on Feb. 6, first-year Lady Wolverines coach Keith Durham noted the Lady Cardinals were missing a starter that night.
“I’ve talked to (the players) all year about this being the right time to play our best basketball,” he said. “We’re just going to try to do what we do and whatever happens, happens.”
Durham said he wasn’t sure what to expect this season when he took the job, but added that his main objective was to see improvement. Texico (21-6) won the District 6-2A regular-season and tournament titles.
“You can’t get caught up in wins and losses,” he said. “You’ve got to do the things you have control of. I want us to play hard, rebound and take care of the basketball, and if you do those things you’ll have an opportunity to win.”
In Class 1A Region A girls play, Grady coach Alicia Rush said the Lady Bronchos (17-8) could have their hands full despite Melrose’s modest record. The Lady Buffs (12-16) have been known to slip up and beat good teams on occasion.
“Every game from now on is extremely important,” said Rush, whose squad was runnerup at state to Des Moines in 2004. “We’ve gotten a lot better from Christmastime until now. They (Lady Bronchos) just have to understand that everyone is going to play well from this point on.”
Grady is seeking a fifth consecutive state berth.