By Kevin Wilson
TEXICO — One needs only follow Richard Luscombe to see what a difference a new arena can make.
The Texico boys basketball coach used to operate out of an office comparable to supply closets, located in what referred to as the “old gym” in the brackets of this year’s 47th annual EPAC basketball tournament.
It’s different now for Luscombe, who shares an office with another coach that is two to three times the size of his old domain. While Luscombe has that office for the foreseeable future, what he and his Wolverines don’t have for the rest of EPAC is the homecourt advantage the Texico Sports Arena provides.
Both Texico squads leave home for Greyhound Arena, which hosts today’s semifinals and tomorrow’s championship games.
As it stands, the Wolverines (8-2) only got one game out of hosting the tournament — a 74-45 win over Dora to set up a semifinal matchup with Melrose.
“There’s not much of a homecourt advantage,” Luscombe said. “It would have been nice to play a few more games here, but that would have meant a lower seed.”
Melrose (5-4) has been idle since Tuesday night’s 66-37 win over San Jon. Luscombe expects Casey Pack’s Buffalo squad to come out with a lot of energy.
“Melrose has got a lot of quickness and that concerns me quite a bit,” Luscombe said. “They get up and down the floor. We’ll have to adjust to (Pack’s) pressure to be successful.”
Floyd (6-4) and Fort Sumner (5-6) meet in Friday’s first semifinal.
The Lady Wolverines, who defeated Logan 47-18, also got just one home game out of the tournament. Texico (9-1) faces Grady (9-3) in a 4:15 p.m. contest. Lady Wolverines coach Buddy Little would like to help end a two-year EPAC title drought for Texico, but “Grady’s going to have something to say about that.
“Grady’s pretty tough, I think,” Little said. “Basically, there’s a lot of parity between the four teams and whoever’s having the best night is going to win it.”
The other semifinal game pits two-time defending champion Elida (7-5) and Fort Sumner (8-3). Elida defeated the Vixens 46-27 in last season’s EPAC title game, but Lady Tigers coach Dan Howard expects Fort Sumner to be formidable with Sandy and Kelly Fortner added to the mix.
“Fort Sumner’s a very physical team,” Howard said. “We know it’s going to be a dogfight. Those Fortner girls are tough and they’re really well-coached.”