Games to watch
Jan. 31: Santa Rosa at Pecos
These perennial powers in what was formerly Class 3A are now rivals in a drastically realigned District 7-2A. They met in the 3A championship game in The Pit two seasons ago, and Pecos beat the Lions twice in a pair of nondistrict games last year. Granted, Pecos may be down from its back-to-back title runs, but it’s still Pecos. Combined, the teams have won 97 games the last two seasons with each making the state semifinals both years.
Jan. 10: Maxwell at New Mexico School for the Deaf
If you’re looking for a litmus test to see whether the Roadrunners are for real, this is it. Maxwell reached the small-school state championship game a year ago as the No. 2 seed and will again be regarded as a threat for a deep playoff push this season. In many ways they set the standard for teams in this area. NMSD never really had a chance to test its playoff legs a year ago, getting shocked as the No. 5 seed in the opening round.
Jan. 22: Pecos at Peñasco
In case you hadn’t noticed, Class 2A is enormous this year. There are 37 teams in a classification that takes on a dramatically different look this season. One of the returnees is Peñasco, which had a celebrated 26-win season that ended with a disappointing championship game loss back in March in The Pit. Pecos drops down from 3A and should instantly be an contender in a crowded field of newcomers.
Feb. 22: Texico at Pecos
A good rule of thumb? If you think you have what it takes to hold that title banner on Bob King Court, hold off on the trophy engraving until you go head to head with Texico. The 3A champions last year, the Lady Wolverines have won state 10 of the last 19 years and three of the last four. The Lady Panthers are good, but are they Texico good? A late-season district road trip to one of the toughest places to play will go a long way in telling us.