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Right now, the blue trophy in basketball goes through Pecos.

The Panthers won it all in 2017, 2018 and 2019, and they’re trying to make it four in a row in 2020. “They won one state championship, and then they won two and that bug has bitten them and now I can’t get them out of a gym,” explained head coach Ira Harge, Jr.

The Panthers brought back 12 of their 14 players from last season and have a roster with nine seniors.  Those upper classmen don’t know anything other than winning a state title. “A lot of the older guys tell us, ‘You better win it, you better keep it going’,” said senior Xavier Padilla.

Xavier Padilla is their two-thousand point man, Anthony Armijo is their floor general point guard and Ismael Villegas is their big man in the middle. Up tempo is how to describe them; these guys like to run.  Their coach says it’s in the culture. “We’re a culture of runners up here,” said Harge.  “We’re at high altitude and we won state (cross country) three straight years, this year we took third.  They are runners and that helps us immensely as far as basketball is concerned.”

“It give us that advantage,” said senior Anthony Armijo.  “A lot of teams have height.  We really don’t have that.  Our advantage is our speed.”

The Panthers take on all-comers, even beating Class 5A competitor Clovis earlier this season. “We know what it takes to get to the championship game, or even get past the first round, and it’s hard,” said Harge.  “So we try to stack our schedule and play the toughest teams we can play.”

Their motto is Stay Humble and Be Hungry.

“There is some pressure, but it’s our last year,” said senior Ismael Villegas.  “We want a perfect ending to our career.”

If history repeats itself, the blue trophy might just go to the green and gold again.

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