Tournament time has arrived in New Mexico.

The New Mexico High School state basketball championship brackets were released on Sunday afternoon, and nine San Juan County teams have already begun preparing for runs to the University of New Mexico's "The Pit," where they hope to play for a state championship.

Round of 16 games will begin on Friday with several girls' teams in action, and the boys get underway on Saturday.

Shiprock is the only boys team hosting a first-round tournament game this year, with 4A's Kirtland, Farmington and Piedra Vista all hitting the road.

Piedra Vista, Kirtland, Shiprock and Navajo Prep girls will all host games, giving local hoops fans a wide variety of games to pick from.

Here is a deeper look at the first-round matchups.

4A BOYS

No. 9 Kirtland Central at No. 8 Bernalillo

After winning the District 1-4A tournament and finishing the season strong, the Kirtland Central Broncos expected to be hosting a home playoff game, but instead they will be hitting the road to face Bernalillo.

"Grants winning their district tournament might have pushed us down, and I am not surprised Grants and Gallup are higher than us, but I am not sure why Santa Teresa (No. 7) is a better seed than us," said Kirtland head coach John Zecca.

If Kirtland wins at Bernalillo, the Broncos would likely face No. 1 Goddard in the quarterfinals at The Pit, if the Rockets get past No. 16 Los Alamos.

Coaches around the county believe Kirtland is a good matchup for Goddard because the Broncos have the size to compete with the Rockets, but Zecca said he is worried about Goddard's point guard and getting past Bernalillo more than anything else.

No. 12 Farmington at No. 5 Gallup

The Scorpions head into hostile territory in Gallup in the round of 16.

Farmington faced Gallup earlier in the season, losing by double digits, but Scorps head coach Robert Lopez knows both teams have improved greatly since then, and he expects a much different game.

"Gallup is always tough. We expected to play either them or Grants in the first round, but what we didn't expect was getting seeded so low behind a team like Atrisco Heritage, who has a losing record," Lopez said. "I expect the Gallup gym to be packed, but we have played in their tournament and are familiar with the gym. We don't mind being in a hostile environment, and I am sure all the guys will be fired up and will play their hearts out."

If the Scorps can get past Gallup, they would face the winner of No. 4 St. Pius X and No. 13 Valencia.

"We would love to play St. Pius again. They aren't quite as strong now as they were at the beginning of the season and I think we would have a good chance with them," Lopez said.

No. 15 Piedra Vista at No. 2 Roswell

Roswell saw its run at a third consecutive state championship end in the quarterfinals last season when it was upset by Piedra Vista. Now the two teams are set to meet in the Round of 16.

"Roswell did a lot of things well all season to win 20-plus games," said PV head coach Brian Shock. "They are a good team, but we do feel good going down there because we have played a lot of games in their gym the last three years. It is just good to have a familiar venue to play in."

Shock said he expects Roswell to be fired up to beat the Panthers after last year's playoff game.

If the Panthers upset Roswell, they would play the winner of No. 7 Santa Teresa and No. 10 Los Lunas.

 

4A GIRLS

No. 14 Bernalillo at No. 3 Piedra Vista

The Piedra Vista Lady Panthers earned the highest seed in program history on Sunday afternoon and will host their first-ever home playoff game on Friday night.

The Lady Panthers face Bernalillo, a matchup head coach Mike Christie said he couldn't complain about.

If PV wins on Friday, the team would face the winner of No. 6 Gallup, the defending champs, and No. 11 Farmington in the quarterfinals.

"I was kind of hoping we would get Espa-ola Valley in the second round, but we had Gallup by 11 on their home court in the fourth quarter until Bree Walking Eagle fouled out with four minutes left on weak back-to-back touch fouls. So Gallup will be OK."

No. 13 Del Norte at No. 4 Kirtland

The Kirtland Central Lady Broncos have a mission to not lose the rest of the season after picking up their fourth loss at Santa Fe Indian School. They get their next chance at a win against No. 13 Del Norte on Friday night.

Head coach Kevin Holman said he didn't think the bracket looked bad at all for his team, and said he likes their chances.

Kirtland would face the winner of No. 5 Espa-ola Valley and No. 12 Miyamura in the quarterfinals if the Lady Broncos get past Del Norte.

No. 11 Farmington at No. 6 Gallup

Just like the Scorpions' boys team, the Lady Scorpions are faced with hitting the road to Gallup to play against the Bengals and their passionate fans.

"It is going to be a great test, but we will be ready," said FHS head coach Michael Switch. "Gallup is coming off a big win after beating No. 1 Grants in the district title game and they will be up for us, but we will be up for them, too."

Switch said he thinks the tough road games his girls have played this season have prepared them well for the moment, and he said he feels his team has benefitted from playing Kirtland and Piedra Vista both in the past 10 days.

If the Lady Scorps can win in Gallup, they would face the winner of No. 3 Piedra Vista and No. 14 Bernalillo.

Kirtland head coach Kevin Holman said he thinks Farmington has what it takes to create a quarterfinal matchup with PV.

"I think that would add even more to the rivalry," Switch said. "It would be an opportunity to play another great team and playing PV at The Pit would be great, but we know we have to take care of business in Gallup for that to be a possibility."

3A BOYS

No. 14 Portales at No. 3 Shiprock

The Chieftains, fresh off a thrilling overtime win in the District 1-3A title game against Wingate, will have a chance to entertain their home fans one more time with a home playoff game against Portales.

"We are happy about this," said Shiprock head coach Chester H. Atcitty Jr. "the guys are looking forward to it and we are wanting to go further. As coaches we just have to keep reminding the guys that it only gets tougher every game from here and we have to bring our best game. We don't want to overlook anybody."

Shiprock would face the winner of No. 6 Robertson and No. 1 Socorro at the Santa Ana Star Center in the quarterfinals if they can get past Portales.

The Chieftains are also set up to face No. 2 St. Michael's at The Pit in the semifinals if both teams advance that far.

"Getting to The Pit (in Albuquerque) would be a great atmosphere for our boys to play in. I know our fans will support us, and we would love to play for them in that atmosphere," Atcitty said.

3A GIRLS

No. 12 Lovington at No. 5 Shiprock

Lovington is faced with a lengthy bus ride to Shiprock for the Round of 16.

The Lady Chieftains will begin their run to get back into the 3A championship game and earn redemption after losing to Santa Fe Indian School in the finals a year ago. Santa Fe Indian is looking for a three-peat this season.

If Shiprock can get past Lovington, the Lady Chiefs will face the winner of No. 4 St. Michael's and No. 13 Thoreau in The Pit.

Shiprock has experience battling from a similar seeding, and this group of girls, led by first-year head coach Jonah Shorty, has the confidence to begin a run after going 9-0 through District 1-3A games.

2A GIRLS

No. 13 Dexter at No. 4 Navajo Prep

The Lady Eagles' run at the 2A state title began a year ago after losing to Navajo Pine on a buzzer-beater in the state quarterfinals in overtime.

Beginning this year's run toward the title game will be a home game against No. 13 Dexter.

If the Lady Eagles advance past Dexter they will face the winner of No. 5 Magdalena and No. 12 Cloudcroft.

Navajo Prep would have to face No. 1 Texico in the semifinals after being awarded the No. 4 seed instead of the No. 3.

"It would have been nice to be opposite of Texico, but I am not surprised to be ranked fourth," said Prep head coach Rainy Crisp. "If both teams get that far, it should be a good game."