Panthers on prowl for road victory this weekend

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FARMINGTON — Piedra Vista is still fighting to be viewed as one of the elites in 6A girls basketball, largely because the Panthers have two big boxes to check off.

To lock up one of the higher playoff seeds, PV (18-3, 1-2) is convinced it'll have to win at least three of its final five district games, including a win against Cibola, Rio Rancho or Volcano Vista. Those three squads are currently ahead of PV for first, second and third place, respectively, in the District 1-6A standings.

"I think we're capable of beating these teams in order to get a top seed for the tournament," junior point guard Alexis Long said. "Showing (critics) this year that we're able to keep up with 6A, I think we're (up there)."

The Panthers are happy to already have 18 wins and believe they're a lock for the 16-team field. They gave Cibola fits in the district opener almost two weeks ago, and they won their first district game Saturday (51-44 at Cleveland).

"We've shown we can compete with anybody in the state. We've shown in flashes that we deserve to be a top-five team," coach Joe Reed said.

But PV fears its notable wins so far (against 5A powers Bloomfield and Kirtland Central, and 6A's Sandia, Atrisco Heritage and Cleveland) aren't enough to secure a first-round playoff game at home, let alone a higher seed.

"(Beating Cleveland's) going to get you in, but it's not going to get you a home game. You've got to finish possibly top-three in your district to maybe get yourself a home game," Reed said. "If we want a top-eight seed, we're definitely going to have to get a (win over) Cibola, Volcano Vista or Rio Rancho."

PV will play at Cibola Friday, followed by a trip to Rio Rancho on Saturday. Reed said stealing a road victory this weekend, knowing PV will play its final three district games at home, will help put his squad in line for at least a No. 6 or No. 7 seed.

"It'll take the monkey off our back, for sure. We want to make sure our résumé’ is strong enough," Reed said. "It would mean the world to these girls (to host a playoff game)."

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.

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