LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – It took some time for the Las Cruces Bulldawgs to find their footing following the loss of players like William Benjamin II and Isaiah Carr. The team started 7-8 as this year’s players discovered how they fit into new roles, however since district three play began, the team has gone 6-1 and is now tied for first place.

As Las Cruces begins to climb the ranks and make a case to get back into the state tournament, Coach Benjamin has his squad playing with three things in mind. “Ignore criticism, deflect praise, and focus on getting better,” said Benjamin. “We use the term ‘play-play.’ It’s easy to go out there and just play-play, but we’re trying to win-win, and so in order to win-win you have to do things right-right. Just the fact that we’re competitive in our district, I don’t think a lot of people thought that would happen.”

Now the Bulldawgs have an opportunity to take over sole possession of first place in district three as they host cross-town rival Organ Mountain on Thursday. The Knights won the previous matchup this season 39-36, but a win for Las Cruces in the next game has implications that go beyond a district trophy.

“If we can pull off an upset win Thursday night, we mess up everything for everybody in the state because of our record and because of who we haven’t beat. Personally, I like being in that position but nothing happens for us unless we win Thursday,” Benjamin said.