Five-year turnaround puts Bloomfield on the map
ALBUQUERQUE — The culture change was swift and dramatic.
Within five years, coach Tom Adair took Bloomfield’s girls basketball program from being essentially a doormat in New Mexico girls prep basketball to being this year’s 5A state runner-up — the Lady Bobcats' first state finals appearance since 1984.
“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” senior guard Brandi Alcantar said of the season.
Bloomfield not only became relevant at the county level, but also at the state level.
“It’s worth something to us,” senior forward Alyssa Quintana said.
The Lady Bobcats won a combined 51 games in the seven seasons prior to Adair’s arrival in 2013. Since then, Bloomfield has won a combined 83 games — including 64 games the last three seasons.
“(Bloomfield is now) excited about basketball,” Adair said. “Everywhere I’m going, I have people asking me about the girls. I can’t tell how many text messages I got (Thursday) after we beat Gallup, phone calls, people just excited about what these girls have accomplished. We changed the culture, we really did.”
Looking back, the thought of even reaching the state finals seemed so far-fetched to some.
“I wasn’t very fond of the sport in eighth grade. I just couldn’t picture myself being in the Pit,” senior forward Mattie Waresback recalled.
Five years ago, Bloomfield certainly wasn’t considered a basketball town.
“But it is now,” Adair said.
Fast forward to Friday, and the Lady Bobcats (26-6) demonstrated they're in the same class as Los Lunas and the other elites.
The Tigers had just two losses en route to winning this year’s 5A title, but one of those defeats came against the team it had to beat to win it all: Bloomfield.
That same Lady Bobcats team beat some of the other squads that are regulars in the state tournament, including Shiprock, Kirtland Central, Gallup and West Las Vegas.
“We definitely proved we can beat the top teams in the state, and that we are one of the top teams in the state,” Adair said.
Despite playing their last game in royal blue and gold, the eight departing seniors aren’t the least bit worried about the not-too-distant future. They believe key returners, including sophomore shooting guard Halle Payne, and future Lady Bobcats will be motivated to keep that winning culture going because the bar is set so high now.
Alcantar said this season’s state finals run won’t be the end of such glory days under Adair.
“I believe he’s going to continue to make this program grow. We’ve set hopes for people. People are going to want to come back and be here (in the state finals),” Alcantar said.
Bloomfield struggles to knock down key shots in final couple minutes of regulation Friday night in Albuquerque. Matt Hollinshead/The Daily Times
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577.