Foxes have lofty goals

CNJ staff

FORT SUMNER — The Fort Sumner boys basketball team is the fifth seed in the Class 1A state tournament beginning today at Del Norte High School in Albuquerque, but the Foxes aren’t ready to accept that.

They’re shooting for the big prize.

“A lot of guys talk about getting to state, but our goal is to win it,” Foxes coach Wes Weems said Tuesday as his team prepared for today’s 6:45 p.m. quarterfinal matchup against fourth-seeded Hagerman (25-5). “They have a goal, and they’re going to give it everything they can to do it.

“We’re as good as anybody there, I think. At the state tournament, it comes down to things like nerves.”

Fort Sumner has won six small-school state titles in football, including the 2005 title in November, but the Foxes haven’t been this far in basketball since 2001. They had a 17-game winning streak snapped on Saturday with a 67-65 loss at Logan in the Region A championship game, but gained confidence from that outing.

Weems said he believes the Longhorns (24-4), seeded third at state, have a good chance of reaching the final.

“Playing a very formidable foe like Logan in their gym and having an opportunity late to win the game is encouraging,” Weems said. “Our kids don’t know the meaning of the word ‘quit.’ They never give up.”

Fort Sumner relies heavily on senior guard Jeremy Gauna for scoring production. He averages 21.2 points a game, but Weems noted that seven or eight others chip in significant scoring contributions behind him.

Stephen Gallegos, a 6-foot-3 senior forward, averages around 10 points a game and leads the team in rebounding as well. He scored a career-best 23 points in the loss at Logan.

The Foxes’ road to the finals will be challenging, starting with Hagerman.

“I’ve seen them play; they’ve got some good size,” Weems said of the Bobcats. “We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game with us and hope we can execute.”

If they win tonight, Fort Sumner likely will face top-seeded Des Moines (27-2) in a 5 p.m. semifinal on Thursday.