By Kevin Wilson
While one Portales basketball squad looks to repeat, the other hopes it can reload.
Practices started Monday for the girls and boys squads at Portales High School. Both teams are currently waiting on significant portions of their rosters, and the first few days are being used as a foundation for the rest of the season.
The girls team, coached by Brenda Gomez, will return most of its roster from last season’s Class 3A championship team. For now, though, it’s a waiting game — until the volleyball season ends, the Lady Rams are without four of their potential starters and as many as eight returning varsity members.
Regardless of what happens, Portales will have a full roster for its Dec. 2 opener at home against Artesia.
Gomez hopes to distribute the scoring evenly, so the Lady Rams aren’t in danger when one or more scorers has an off night.
“We’re going to focus more on everybody trying to score,” Gomez said. “We’re working a lot on being in a position to score.”
Senior point guard Roni Gomez is the only returning varsity player available — Portales graduated four seniors and senior Felicity Pena has opted not to play this season.
The Ram squad, meanwhile, will try to compete against Class 3A favorite Lovington and a senior-laden Ruidoso squad in District 4-3A. They’ll have to do it with an unproven roster, as the Rams graduated more than half of last season’s team that finished 13-14 but took eventual state champ St. Michael’s to overtime in regionals.
Portales coach Mark Gallegos said that he has a group of about 18 to work with before Monday, when the Ram football season ends. Those 18, Gallegos said, have a great opportunity to make the varsity team, as only three players (Chris Carter, Chris Kirchner and Russell Knudson) have significant varsity experience.
It also means that Gallegos has a small base of experience to work with.
“The first few days are just a lot of fundamentals,” Gallegos said. “We just try to build a base.
“We’ve got so many young kids at the varsity level, we’ve got to break things down, make it real simple.”
The Rams open their season Dec. 4 at the Shallowater Shootout.