By Dave Wagner
FLOYD — Whatever helped Floyd reach the six-man football state championship game, Noel Carpenter wants some of it to rub off in the girls basketball squad.
The Lady Broncos have their work cut out trying to compete in District 3-1A, one of the toughest small-school circuits in New Mexico. But Carpenter, a 5-foot-7 wing and the only senior on the squad, figures maybe they can pull off their own surprise after what the football team accomplished.
“I’m hoping the same (type of) thing will happen to us,” she said. “Everybody thinks we’ll stink, but we have a lot of heart.
“During the summer, we did really good and won a lot of games. We have girls that are stepping up.”
For the Lady Broncos (11-15, 2-8 district) to advance in postseason, they’ll have to get past the likes of Fort Sumner and Elida in their own district. And Dora and Melrose don’t figure to be slouches, either.
“This is still a young team,” second-year coach Sean Wootton said. “I think it’s just going to be a year of trying to improve and be competitive.
“I think as a team we’re going to play better. I don’t know if our record will show that because our schedule is a lot tougher, but playing some of these teams is hopefully going to help us get better.”
As usual, the Lady Broncos don’t have much size. And they lost their top two scorers to graduation in 3-point shooters in Cindy Andrade and Corrina Mendoza.
“We’re looking for an offensive leader,” Wootton conceded. “When games are on the line, we need someone who demands the ball and wants it in their hands.”
Still, if they’re to make a move up the ladder, it’ll be based on defense.
“For these girls to be successful, it’s going to have to start on the defensive side,” he said. “Our theme this year is ‘digging on defense.’ We’ve got to make that a priority.”
A corps of juniors will surround Carpenter — 5-7 forward Darcee Chenault, 5-5 wings Kelli Johnson and Brandi Paiz, 5-6 point guard Jewlie Paiz, 5-5 guard Rebecca Blue and 5-8 post Carley Dement.
“We have girls that are stepping up,” said Carpenter, a three-time Class 1A state champion in track who helped the Lady Broncos to a second-place finish in 1A last spring in that sport. “We have some really quick girls.
“I think we have the toughest district (in 1A). In my opinion, that’s how it’s been the last few years. Fort Sumner won state in volleyball, and they’ll probably win it in basketball, too.”
She’ll get no argument from Wootton.
“It’s the toughest all-around district in single-A, with the talent that Fort Sumner has, and Dora and Elida are all seniors,” he said. “And Melrose, with the addition of Jason Lee as coach, his knowledge of the game is excellent.”