Key first-round girls hoops playoff games to watch

The Daily Times staff
Farmington's Jordan Vasquez knocks down a contested jumper against Sandia's Autumn Gonzales (34) during a non-district game Friday, Jan. 18 at Scorpion Arena in Farmington. FHS will host Cleveland in Friday's 5A state playoff opener.

Farmington vs. Cleveland, 7 p.m. Friday

The Lady Scorpions have a chance to start fresh following recent first-half foul troubles, which resulted in four losses in their last six games entering the 5A playoffs. At least initially, it may not be an easy task.

Cleveland beat FHS 66-51 back on Dec. 15, the Scorps’ first loss of the season. CHS is 3-0 all-time against FHS entering Friday.

Farmington’s Jordan Vasquez scored 37 points in the last meeting, but four other players were held to a combined 14 points. If the rest of the cast can find ways to knock down extra shots and lighten Vasquez’s workload this time, expect a good battle.

La Cueva vs. Rio Rancho, 7 p.m. Friday

This matchup features two squads who can do damage inside and out. Both sides score on penetration and can hit 3s driving and stepping back in open space.

Both sides can also get key stops in the paint and press opposing shooters on the wing.

Consider PV and Farmington lucky the LC-Rio Rancho matchup is on the other side of the bracket, even with their success against them earlier in the season.

La Cueva, for example, sent Hobbs home during the state semifinals two seasons ago. Hobbs is the No. 1 seed in the 5A bracket, and they’ll have to face the LC/Rio Rancho winner in the quarterfinals.

Mayfield vs. Sandia, 6 p.m. Friday

This could very well be the first “upset alert” game of the tournament, now that Sandia has turned things around quickly after a rough end to its non-district schedule.

Sandia dropped five of its final six non-district contests, but soon plowed through district play to win district regular season and tournament titles. SHS faced Rio Rancho, Cleveland, La Cueva, Farmington and Piedra Vista during that midseason stretch, which should make them plenty battle-tested for state.