By Rick White
The Portales Rams have faced Clovis on numerous occasions this season. And the Rams are better for it.
“We get a little tired of playing each other,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said. “But it’s good for us playing Clovis because they make us better.”
The Rams and Wildcats will meet twice more today in the five-team basketball jamboree at Rock Staubus Gym hosted by the Wildcats.
Led by senior guards Bo Gabriel, Chris Carter and Chris Kirchner, the Rams are running and pressing more than usual because they lack size.
“We’re not really big but we’re real athletic,” Gallegos said. “We give people matchup problems because of that.”
At the Eastern New Mexico University team camp earlier this month, the Rams finished with 10-straight wins after dropping their first two games.
“I just like how hard we’ve played this summer,” Gallegos said. “I’m real excited about our potential for next season. I think we can be good.”
For the Wildcats, the future looks considerable brighter than it did at the end season.
One reason is the return of 6-foot-7 senior Tig Bunton, who re-enrolled at Clovis this spring after moving to Florida shortly before the start of the 2003-2004 basketball season.
Another is the development of a pair of 6-foot-4 juniors in Devin Sweet and Chris Finch, who along with Bunton and returning senior Dominque Easterlin (6-foot-4) form a potentially imposing front line.
“All of a sudden we’re pretty deep in the post,” Clovis coach J.D. Isler said. “Devin and Chris have really stepped it up this spring.”
Bunton led the Wildcats in scoring and rebounding as a sophomore.
Isler said Bunton has matured since last season.
“He’s bigger and stronger,” Isler said. “I think he’s one of the top two or three players in state.”
The Wildcats, who finished third in the district last season and missed the state playoffs for the first time in three seasons under Isler, return a solid backcourt led by seniors Tizrick Phillips, John Props and Elliott Hita.