Mike Powers| News-Bulletin photos
Jalin Holland, getting fouled in the district tournament against Santa Fe, leads Los Lunas into the state playoffs Saturday against Alamogordo.

When the brackets were announced Sunday for the New Mexico State Basketball Championships, there were no real surprises for Valencia County high school teams.   

The selections include Los Lunas in 5A boys and 5A girls, and Valencia in 4A girls.  

Round of 16 games, at the site of the higher seed, will be held Friday for girls and Saturday for boys.  

LLHS (19-9) was a Top 10-ranked boys’ team all season, assigned a seventh seed and a home game against No. 10 Alamogordo (18-10), a familiar foe.  

“They’re definitely a formidable opponent for us,” said Los Lunas coach Travis Julian.  “They’ve got good athletes.”   

LLHS split a pair of games with Alamogordo during the regular season, losing 45-42 at an Artesia tournament in early December, and winning 47-36 in January on Alamogordo’s home court.   

“They are very physical and athletic,” said Julian, who recalled Alamogordo’s rebounding dominance in the first contest. “They’ve got a lot of seniors. This is kind of like their last hurrah.”  

While LLHS will lean heavily on the scoring and rebounding of All-State guard Jalin Holland, Alamogordo relies on balance, with Jason Warren the only player in double figures at 10.3 points per game.  

LLHS, the District 5-5A champion, has gained experience since the last meeting.  

“We played two of the better games that we’ve played all year in the last two games of the district tournament,” said Julian. “We just need to try to keep building on that.”  

Tipoff is 6 p.m., Saturday at Los Lunas High School.  

“We’re excited to get a home game,” said Julian. “Now this week, we have to just figure out a way to stay sharp, keep our edge.”  

Odds were long at the start of the season for the Los Lunas girls’ team to reach the state playoffs, but the Tigers (19-10) posted 13 more wins than a year ago.   

The reward for the 14th seed is a Friday trip to Farmington (24-4) to face the No. 3 Scorpions, who are deep and talented.  

Los Lunas travels to Farmington Friday in a Round of 16 playoff game.

“They can all really dribble, drive, shoot the ball and pass,” said Tigers’ first-year coach Manny Vigil. “They’ve got a lot of high IQ kids,” when it comes to basketball.  

Farmington is led by All-State guard, senior Kapiolani Anitielu, who averages 17.1 points per game.   

The Tigers hope to disrupt Farmington with their trademark full-court pressure, while offensively, Tessa Jaramillo leads Los Lunas with 15.3 points per contest.  

The first priority for Vigil this week was to refocus the Tigers after two heart-breaking losses to Albuquerque High. The first was a playoff game to decide the district 4-5A regular season champion, followed by an overtime setback for the district tournament title that saw LLHS make only nine of 25 free throws.   

“We’ll watch Farmington film and get back to what we do each day and get their mindset back in it,” Vigil said Sunday following the bracket release. “They might still be a little numb” from the final loss to AHS.  

In 4A, the Valencia girls (18-11) are back in the state playoffs for the third straight year, earning a No. 8 seed and a home game against No. 9 Lovington (17-12).   

“All the girls are excited that we got a home game, that we don’t have to travel,” said first-year coach Raymond Montoya after the pairings were revealed.    

The Jaguars spent the week learning more about the Wildcats, who play in a district with state tournament qualifiers Artesia and Portales. 

Valencia guard Jadyn Montoya and the Jaguars host Lovington Friday in the first round of the state playoffs.

“They’ve played some pretty good teams close. It should be a pretty good matchup,” said Montoya.  

One common opponent is Belen, giving us an inkling about how even the two teams appear. Lovington defeated the Eagles 65-45 in December, while Valencia downed the district rival twice by an average score of 53-37.  

A matchup at guard may highlight the showdown. Lovington’s top scorer is senior Elizabeth Buendia, who comes in at just over 16 points per contest, while Valencia’s Jadyn Montoya, junior, is among the top scorers in New Mexico, averaging 21.3 points.    

“We’re 100 percent,” as far as the team’s health said Montoya. “It looks like we’re peaking at the right time. I’m really happy with the way we’re playing going into it.”  

The tipoff is at 5 p.m., Friday at VHS.  


Boys 5-5A All-District, Los Lunas  

Jalin Holland, junior, Player of the Year   

Logan Tafoya, senior, first team  

Isaiah Juarez, senior, second team  

Rex Kinsey, senior, honorable mention  

Isaiah Aragon, senior, honorable mention  

Travis Julian, Coach of the Year  


Boys 4-5A All-District, Belen  

Jordi Rojo, senior, first team  

Jasode Harris, junior, second team  

Damian Avila, junior, second team  


Boys 4-5A All-District, Valencia  

Damian Estrada, senior, first team   

Jared Porter, sophomore, second team  


Girls 5-5A All-District, Los Lunas  

Tessa Jaramillo, junior, first team  

Alyssa Campos, sophomore, second team  

Sienna Flores, freshman, honorable mention  

Manny Vigil, Coach of the Year  


Girls 4-4A All-District, Belen  

Analeigha Wright, senior, first team  

Danilynn Bob, sophomore, second team  

Jaelynn Bob, junior, second team,  


Girls 4-4A All-District, Valencia  

Jadyn Montoya, junior, first team  

Jaiden Montgomery, sophomore, second team 

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Mike Powers spent more than 40 years as a television news and sports anchor, mostly in the Albuquerque market. He has won numerous awards including New Mexico Sportscaster of the Year. He covers a wide range of sports, including the Valencia County prep scene.