Coach: Richard Armijo (4th year)
Last season: 15-15; lost to Española Valley in 5A first round
Key players: Sydney Valdez, 5-2, sr., G.; Eryn Jaramillo, 5-7, sr., FW; Jaidyn Hester, 5-0, sr., G.
Outlook: Though Armijo doesn’t have a deep team, he thinks the Lady Eagles will be strong.
Jaramillo is poised for a breakout season, and with a proper supporting cast, the Lady Eagles can make a decent run for a district title.
“We have to stay healthy,” said Armijo. “If we stay healthy, we can be good. We’re not very deep, but we can be very strong.”
In addition to Jaramillo, the Lady Eagles will take the court with three more seniors.
Armijo said the team has a strong junior core with a few tall players who will help with rebounding and defensing.
“I expect by midseason, we’ll be strong,” said Armijo. “We just have to work out the kinks.”
Coach: Marty Zeller (7th year)
Last season: 29-2; Class 5A champions
Key Players: Marissa Weldon, 5-3, sr., PG; Jaidyn Schollander, 5-6, sr., FW; Natalie Jojola, 5-5, soph., G
Outlook: The Lady Tigers lost a few key seniors, leading some spectators to believe they are in a rebuilding season.
Zeller says that isn’t the case. Los Lunas is returning 9 players. They may not have been starters in past seasons, but they have experience with winning.
“They’re as talented as ever,” said Zeller. “They know the game, and they know how to win.”
Zeller said the team will boast strong ball handling and shooting. Another state title run is not out of the realm of possibility.
For the time being, however, the Lady Tigers are focusing on the regular season and another district title.
Coach: Micaela Medina (1st year)
Last season: 8-19
Key players: Mandi Koester, 5-9, sr., G; Naymarie Candelaria, 5-8, sr., G; Hailee Brown, 5-10, sr., PF.
Outlook: After a disappointing 2017-18 season, Valencia is looking forward to turning the page with a new coach. Medina, who led Cobre to a 15-11 record last season, is impressed with the coachability of her new squad.
“They’re all working hard,” said Medina. “I have to give them all credit, to be honest. They want to be here. They hear what I have to say, and they’re really coachable.”
Medina brings a new system, which means new plays for many seniors. She says the players are taking to the changes well and should improve throughout the season.
“I think we’re going to peak come district time, which is the right time,” said Medina. “Right now, we’re still learning.”