By Dave Wagner
If form holds, the Farwell Steers are likely to be playing in Saturday’s boys championship game of the Farwell Invitational for the fourth time in coach Kirk Saul’s five years at the school.
Farwell (5-2) takes on a struggling Elida squad at 8:30 p.m. (CST) today in the last of eight boys and girls quarterfinal games. If the Steers beat the Tigers as expected, they would face the winner of the Friona-Melrose game in Friday’s late semifinal — and Farwell has already won handily over both.
There’s more bad news for the Chieftains and Buffaloes.
“We’re playing a whole lot better than we were then,” Saul said, noting that members of the football team which went two rounds deep into the Class 1A playoffs are starting to get into basketball shape.
Farwell and Texico (3-1) have combined for the last four boys titles, the Steers beating Texico in 1999 and New Home in 2001 while the Wolverines downed Farwell in 2000 and Whiteface last season.
Texico coach Richard Luscombe said he thinks the Steers will reach the finals, and hopes his team is there to greet them. He expects first-round opponent Whiteface (6-3) to give the Wolverines a pretty good test in a rematch of last year’s title clash.
“They lost some kids off last year’s team,” Luscombe said of the Antelopes, adding that senior guard Anthony Arguijo is one of the few returning regulars from last year’s Whiteface squad.
“But if you’re 6-3, and you’ve played some pretty good people,” Luscombe said, “you should be all right.”
Saul said the border rivals could well face off again in the finals.
“Whiteface isn’t bad; they’re better than I thought they’d be,” Saul said. “But it seems like several teams that are usually pretty strong are rebuilding this year.
“We’re pretty happy with where we’re at. With the exception of one game (a loss to Claude in Saturday’s third-place contest of the Nazareth tournament), we’ve played pretty well.”
Meantime, Farwell’s girls (3-5) have a challenging first-round match with Elida in the last girls quarterfinal clash at 7 p.m. (CST).
“We played them this summer at Eastern (New Mexico University),” Lady Blue coach Doug Boyd said. “They have a couple of good players, and it ought to be a good game.”
Several other teams could contend for the girls title, he said, including Texico (4-0) and Friona.
“I think the tournament will be very competitive,” Boyd said. “Whiteface went all the way to the (Class 1A) semi-state tournament (final eight) last year. Friona won a couple of games in the (Class 2A) playoffs last, and Happy won the tournament here last year.”
Farwell is coming off a 13-point loss on Tuesday at Nazareth, ranked 11th in Class 1A. The Lady Swifts led 18-7 at the quarter behind four 3-pointers, and the game was evenly played after that.
“We played probably the best game we’ve played all year,” Boyd said.
Happy vs. Hale Center, 10:30 a.m.
Friona vs. Melrose, 1:30 p.m.
Texico vs. Whiteface, 4:30 p.m.
Elida vs. Farwell, 7:30 p.m.
Happy-Hale Center loser vs. Texico-Whiteface loser, 10:30 a.m.
Friona-Melrose loser vs. Elida-Farwell loser, 1:30 p.m.
Happy-Hale Center winner vs. Texico-Whiteface winner, 4:30 p.m.
Friona-Melrose winner vs. Elida-Farwell winner, 7:30 p.m.
7th place, 10:30 a.m.
5th place, 1:30 p.m.
3rd place, 4:30 p.m.
Championship, 7:30 p.m.
Texico vs. Hale Center, 9 a.m.
Happy vs. Melrose, noon
Friona vs. Whiteface, 3 p.m.
Elida vs. Farwell, 6 p.m.
Happy-Melrose loser vs. Friona-Whiteface loser, 9 a.m.
Texico-Hale Center loser vs. Elida-Farwell loser, noon
Happy-Melrose winner vs. Friona-Whiteface winner, 3 p.m.
Texico-Hale Center winner vs. Elida-Farwell winner, 6 p.m.
7th place, 9 a.m.
5th place, noon
3rd place, 3 p.m.
Championship, 6 p.m.