By Kevin Wilson
Weeknights just got a little more interesting for girls basketball in the area.
Clovis and Portales area teams are part of a new summer league, which opens at 6 p.m. (MDT) today with games at Farwell and Texico high schools.
West Texas-New Mexico Phenoms Summer League organizer Sammy Herrera said he wanted to start up the league to give area players an opportunity to play without dedicating all of their free time.
It’s a move that Herrera says the coaches have been responsive to.
“They’ve been great,” Herrera said. “It takes the stress off of them (to find) something for the girls to do in the summertime, so the kids have the weekends (free) to do whatever.
“My understanding is we’re probably taking some teams away from the ENMU team camp, but you’ve got to play during the week because you’ve got other activities on the weekend.”
Herrera said the plan is to have four games each at Farwell and Texico, running from 5 to 9 p.m. (MDT) on Tuesday and Thursday. The seven-week season will feature 17 teams, with a tournament following the seven-game regular season.
Portales, Clovis and Farwell each have two teams participating in the tournament, according to Herrera.
The Portales varsity will compete in Pool B, while the junior varsity will be in Pool A. Portales coach Brenda Gomez was attracted to the league because of the variety of teams the Lady Rams would face.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity,” Gomez said. “The only (team) we really ever see during the season (from this league) is Clovis. There will be a lot of Texas teams.”
Portales opens its season against Sudan at 7 p.m. at Texico High. The Lady Rams used to compete in the I-25 summer league based in Las Cruces, but said that expenses became too high with a $500 entry fee and travel costs. Portales only has to travel 30 miles, and the team entry fee is $300.
Clovis assistant Dan Replogle said one of the league’s biggest advantages is the location.
“That’s certainly attractive, the proximity of it,” Replogle said. “You get to play good quality basketball nearby.”
Clovis, which competes in Pool A, is scheduled to play Seagraves, Texas, on May 27. Seagraves features sisters Teddy and Darrice Griffin — Darrice is a Parade fourth-team All-American and has committed to Texas Tech in the 2004-05 season.
Seagraves is one of the five teams playing independently, due to travel constraints — Farwell is a two-hour drive from Seagraves.
The 12 teams that play as part of the league are placed in two pools. The three top finishers from each pool will compete in the playoffs.
Herrera said he is also planning to give players an added bonus. Coaches from each playoff-eligible team can select one representative for a league all-star team. That team will play a game against a collection of Texas players who have committed to college programs.
Herrera said he liked the idea because a player from Melrose, Grady or Dora may never receive a chance to play against a Division-I recruit under normal circumstances. The all-star game is scheduled for June 26.