Rams host Ruidoso in district opener

By Dave Wagner

The Portales High boys basketball team enters play tonight in what should be a competitive District 4-3A schedule on a bit of a role.
The Rams (11-7), playing against mostly Class 4A and 5A competition, have won seven of their last nine and already exceeded last year’s win total (10-14). They begin their six-game district schedule with home outings tonight against Ruidoso (10-9) and Friday against Lovington (10-8) in a pair of 7 p.m. starts.
The PHS girls, coming off a 70-26 district rout of Lovington at home on Friday, travel to Ruidoso (10-8, 0-0) today for a 7 p.m. tipoff.
“The kids are really excited to get going,” said PHS boys coach Mark Gallegos, whose team was off on Friday after beating Tucumcari 61-41 last Tuesday. “We’ve kind of waited for this all year. Everybody’s 0-0 now (in the district), and you’ve just got to come out and play.”
Ruidoso brings a four-game winning streak to town, the latest a 66-42 rout of Dexter at home on Thursday. Gallegos said the Warriors are led by 6-foot-2 senior forward Dustin Prelo and 6-2 junior forward-guard Jason Kampsky.
Portales will have to compensate for a size disadvantage, Gallegos said.
“They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” he said. “We’re going to have to press and force them into a quicker tempo than they want to play.”
Lovington, the Class 3A runnerup in both 2003 and 2004, puts an athletic team on the court, although the Wildcats lack much depth.
Since falling to 4-5 in the last week of December, the Rams have lost only to Class 5A top-ranked Clovis (57-47) and Class 4A Roswell High (58-46). They have not allowed more than 47 points in any of their wins in that time.
Because they’re at home, this week’s games are particularly important.
“We can either put ourselves in the driver’s seat or dig ourselves a hole,” Gallegos said.
The Lady Rams (9-9, 1-0) expect to be without coach Brenda Gomez for a second consecutive game tonight. She has spent the last few days in Farmington to be with an ailing sister.
Acting head coach Sharon Max enjoyed a surprisingly easy time in Friday’s runaway over Lovington, in which her team shot 59 percent from the field (26-of-44) and outrebounded the Lady Wildcats 29-13.
“Everything just came together on Friday,” Max said. “Our defense was very good, and it’s getting better.”
The Lady Warriors (10-8), playing their district opener, have been idle since Jan. 20, when they defeated Roswell Goddard 59-41 at home.
Max said junior forward Megan Kabrick (pulled groin muscle) is expected to miss her fourth consecutive game.