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Cibola Lady Raiders hoops moves into latest “Open Division” rankings, season goal within reach

Raiders closing in on entering tournament of the top 32 teams in the state

YUMA, Ariz., (KYMA, KECY) - Entering Tuesday night, the Cibola Lady Raiders basketball squad was once again listed as the first team left out of the Open Division by the AIA's latest rankings.

With a chip on their shoulder, the Raiders may have once again taken exception to that and took the floor at San Luis with some fire - as they dropped 100 points in their third straight win.

"It's always nice to get a win against a Region opponent," said coach Anthony Gerg. "We're just trying ti build that chemistry and motivation to go into playoffs and compete against the best."

Now with Thursday's latest AIA rankings, Cibola finds themselves at No. 29 in the state and into the Open Division if the season were to end today. But it will take wins in each of their last three games to solidify the goal the team has been chasing all season.

"We gotta win out," said Gerg. "If we don't get there, ya know we're always going to be in 6A and compete at the highest level and go as far as we can in the state tournament. But we obviously want the game in the open. Hopefully the power points fall our way."

The Open Division is where things get a little tricky to understand. So here's a breakdown from AZPreps365 website:

Open Division: (32-team bracket): In order to qualify, a school must have played a minimum of 12 games. Following the regular season, the top eight teams from the 4A, 5A and 6A conferences based on the overall AIA rankings powered by MaxPreps will receive a bid. Additionally, the next eight highest-ranked teams from the 4A-6A conferences combined will receive a bid. The state tournament bracket will be seeded according to individual AIA ranking of the 32 teams. The state tournament will consist of five rounds and will be single elimination.

  • Open: Top eight (8) teams from the 4A, 5A and 6A conferences and eight (8) at-large qualifiers from the 4A-6A conferences

To add to that, if Cibola were to not fall into the Open Division category, they would then still compete in the 6A play-in bracket as one of the top seeds, hosting a game at home.

If they were to win, they would advance to the state tournament, made up of the eight winning teams from the play-in, along with teams from 6A that lost in the first two rounds of the Open tournament.

Either way, the Lady Raiders are set up in a good spot with a chance to make a run no matter where they land - but the ultimate goal is to compete at the highest level in the Open and go from there.

In order to get there, the ladies will have to get through Mountain View Mesa on Friday night, followed by Region opponents Cibola and San Luis to round out the regular season.

This season being an important one to Gerg's squad, consisting of seven seniors. Gerg explained why a trip to the Open Division and a run in whatever tournament would mean so much.

"We're looking to make a playoff push," said Gerg. "Winning always helps, but we have 7 seniors on the team and these girls will remember these memories for the rest of their lives. So we're trying to build that culture."

One of those key seniors includes Rori Hoffmeyer who ranks second in all of 6A with 12.3 rebounds per game and fourth in 6A with 1.8 blocks per game.

But there are some key non-seniors that have led the way, as well.

Isabela Molina has shined as one of the state's top point guards, leading 6A with 4.9 assists per game. Also Sierra Bomhower well on her way to a 1,000 point career, ranking seventh in 6A with 17.8 points per game and good for second with 19.9 points per game per 32 minutes.

All of this marking a potential magical season for the black and gold. All that is left is to finish off the regular season and see where it takes them.

Article Topic Follows: High School Sports
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Cole Johnson

Cole Johnson is News 11’s Sports Director.

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