By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
Whether it’s the boys or the girls, whether district play starts this week or next, both Portales teams have the same philosophy with their pre-district schedules. A loss against Class 5A Clovis is better than an easy win against just about anybody else.
It’s the reason why the Portales boys team is playing at 5A Carlsbad tonight, and it’s the reason why the girls team feels confident heading into its District 4-3A opener tonight at Lovington.
“We’re pretty prepared,” Portales junior Briana Hernandez said. “All we’ve played is 4A and 5A teams. I have heard of some 3A teams playing (4A teams here and there), but they don’t play the schedule we do. I feel we’re prepared.”
Portales (12-6) begins its district title defense tonight on the road, facing Lovington in a 7 p.m. varsity battle.
Returning most of its squad from last year, Portales is the favored team against a Ruidoso squad that graduated eight players and a Lovington team that Portales coach Brenda Gomez said is better than advertised.
“They shoot better than they’re given credit for,” Gomez said of the Wildcats. “They don’t have a lot of experience, so that will affect them some.”
Gomez was attending to a family matter last year when Portales opened district play with a surprising 70-26 rout over Lovington, but remembers how it was just as surprising when Lovington won 57-46 less than two weeks later.
“That did help us wake up, and I think the kids remember that,” Gomez said. “I don’t think it’s about how you’re supposed to beat someone. You’ve got to do it on the floor.”
Portales will return home Tuesday for a game with Ruidoso.
The boys team continues its pre-district schedule tonight at Carlsbad, the first of three final pre-district games before Portales’ Jan. 31 matchup at Lovington. Portales (8-7) will travel to Tucumcari Tuesday and host Roswell Thursday, but Ram coach Mark Gallegos wants the team to stay focused on the Cavemen, who have won their last four.
“We can’t look past Carlsbad,” Gallegos said. “Next week doesn’t make any difference. They’re really on a roll. They’re young, but they’re really capable.”
Gallegos said after Tuesday’s win over Goddard that good pre-district opponents should help in postseason seeding. Even though strength of schedule is not listed as a component of seeding, Gallegos said he can’t imagine the committee ignoring a team’s schedule.