Photo: Las Cruces coach William Benjamin
For Enchantment Sports
The biggest boys basketball story that hasn’t been told this year is the dominance of Las Cruces High.
It’s not new.
Since 2017, the Bulldawgs are 105-9, including this season. The past two seasons they were a phenomenal 29-2 and 28-1. This season Las Cruces is 22-1 with the only loss coming at the hands of Volcano Vista (16-5) by a 56-49 margin.
But is Las Cruces receiving the respect for this type of performance year in and year out?
Some would say Las Cruces has an easy road to the state tournament every year given its recent dominance in district play. But is it the district that is weak, or is it just Las Cruces is that good?
Others say if Las Cruces played an Albuquerque district schedule its record wouldn’t be as impressive. Yet, the Bulldawgs have beaten Albuquerque and El Paso schools on a yearly basis. Should they be at a disadvantage by not being in the Albuquerque metro which simply has more teams?
If Las Cruces High was located in the Albuquerque metro, we would probably be singing their praises on a daily basis. The only thing missing is a state championship, and that’s just a matter of time.
What head coach William Benjamin has built is remarkable and should be celebrated and given more consideration.
In 4A, as of last week, Gallup (16-5) and Taos (16-5) still couldn’t can’t catch a break from the voters in the top 10 Ten rankings. Both schools had the best records in 4A (last week’s records in parentheses), yet Gallup was just ranked fourth and Taos barely made the poll at the No. 10 spot.
At the top were, No.1 Valley (13-6), No. 2 Highland (11-7), and No. 3 Hope Christian (11-10).
This season, Gallup has logged almost as many miles as your average truck driver with road games at Hobbs, Bloomfield, and Los Lunas. And the Bengals still share the best record in 4A.
Gallup has actually been ranked behind schools with losing records this season. Taos has also faced these challenges. Winning isn’t enough for these schools to get the recognition.
It seems as though the voters are enamored with Albuquerque’s metro schools. What more do Gallup and Taos have to do? Schedule more Albuquerque schools?
Now I have to give a take on the supposed tough Albuquerque district play; familiarity brings complacency. Each week very talented teams have big wins and then produce befuddling loses. The top teams should be ready each and every game. Consistency in play is lacking when upsets arise. It comes down to all the details. Albuquerque should have at least one team performing at the level of Las Cruces.
I don’t mean to pick on Albuquerque schools or even the voters of the top 10, but it’s time to recognize that the rest of the state is playing some good basketball and that is what we should all want.
Russell Gurule was born and raised in Albuquerque and is a long-time resident. He graduated from Highland High and also attended Hope Christian. Russell is a long-time observer of New Mexico Lobo and high school athletics. Logistics is his day job. Basketball and politics are his passions. To contact Russell with comments of tips, please email EnchantmentSportsNM@gmail.com