Large crowds filled Trinidad State’s Scott Gym for all four nights of this year’s 84th annual TSJC Invitational last weekend; bringing increased excitement and fervor to the venerable early season basketball tournament.
Back this year was a cheerleading competition and the tournament was stretched to four days.
“We shifted to a four-day tournament this year, instead of three days, and everyone I talked to had positive comments,” said Trinidad State Athletic Director Mike Salbato. “The tournament really felt ‘old school’ this year with great crowds for all the games and amazing energy and it hasn’t always been that way the last few years. So, for some reason, this year it just picked up and the crowds were so into it, which is awesome.”
Champions this year were the hometown girls basketball team of Trinidad H.S. and the boys basketball team from Raton. The cheerleading award also went to Raton as did the Rich Arguello Outstanding Coach Award, which went to Raton’s coach Jose Archuleta.
On the girl’s side La Junta finished second, Kim H.S. was third and Maxwell, N.M., finished as the consolation champion. The sportsmanship trophy was awarded to Raton.
On the boy’s side La Junta earned the sportsmanship trophy while Kim, Springer N.M and Hoehne placed second, third and as consolation champion, respectively.
Asked about the team’s play over the weekend, Salbato said, “Our tournament is very unique. It’s the first games of the season for these teams. The opening round games are a struggle, these teams have not had many practices and the game-day management isn’t there yet. But by Saturday, all the teams have improved tremendously we really saw some teams really improve. The Raton girls in the seventh place game and the Springer girls in that game too, were fun to watch. Just to see how much they get better is exciting and by the end of the tournament everyone settles in.”
The Trinidad girl’s team was impressive as they flaunted their deep shooting prowess all tournament long.
Said Salbato, “The Trinidad girls played amazing. They shot the ball so well. Against Kim they had 10 threes, or more. They shot so well and were really led by the three seniors that made the all-tournament team.
The girl’s all-tournament team included Trinidad’s Julia Holden, Kristen Martinez and Justis Dionisio. Others making the team included Hayden Mayo and Raini Tafoya from La Junta and Talara Nittler and Ashton Elliot from Kim and Alex Hoy and Adriana Apodaca from Maxwell.
Meanwhile, for the boys the field was extremely even and competitive.
“It was a very competitive field for the boys all the way through,” said Salbato. “There were some great games and the Raton team is young, but they really came out and played.”
Earning all tournament for the boys were Antonio Cordova from Primero, William Cervantes from Trinidad, Nik Navarette from Hoehne, Jose Urquijo and Owen Burton from Springer, Joseph Buhrle and Kinton Shannon from Kim and Den Kamp and Matt Quartieri from Raton.
“We are excited to move forward to 85th tournament next year,” said Salbato. “We’re pulling a committee together this week in fact to keep this tradition alive. There was a lot of energy to this last tournament and we hope to keep that rolling.”