Lovington on tap for PHS squads

By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer

Though both Portales teams face Lovington tonight, the boys and girls are in completely different territory in their respective District 4-3A seasons.

The Rams head into tonight’s district opener at Lovington on a two-game losing skid. The Portales girls, meanwhile, have won their last three games and have beaten their district opponents by an average of 34.5 points.

Portales coach Brenda Gomez said it’s a good feeling for the team to know that it’s still the team to beat in 4-3A, but admits that a few things could be done better in the rematch of the Jan. 20 district opener, won 71-26 by Portales.

“Since we hadn’t seen each other (before that point), we didn’t do as good of a job as we should have,” Gomez said. “Instead of being apprehensive about something, we need to get after it. We should be able to dictate more of what’s going on.”

That’s the same scenario the boys team is hoping for — one where they can dictate the tempo against the host Wildcats. Portales coach Mark Gallegos talked about two main points for beating Lovington, the first being dribble penetration.

“That’s one of the things,” Gallegos said. “The other is keeping Truman Payne from getting going. He’s tough inside. He’s 6-2, and he’s a big, wide body. He’s hard to keep off the glass. He’s hard to deny the basketball.”

When Lovington gets into a half-court offense, most of it goes through Payne. The key is to keep him from getting the ball inside the key.

“We just have to keep them from getting the ball in the paint,” forward Chance Sherburne said.

Gallegos said that Lovington is deep and runs about nine deep on its roster. From tapes and scouting, Gallegos is assuming that Lovington will use its bench to stay fresh and try to force Portales into a full-court game.

“We have to handle their 1-2-2 half-court trap. If we do a good job taking care of that, we can shoot some layups and force them to play half court.”

Gallegos is assuming that Lovington wants to play in the high 70s, but the Rams will probably have to keep them in the mid-50s to win. The biggest issue, Gallegos said, is not letting the Wildcats jump out to a huge lead so they can dictate the rest of the game.

“The two times that we beat them at home, they never really got going,” Gallegos said. “We controlled the tempo throughout. They beat us last year there, and they got off to a quick start.”

Back in Portales, the Lady Rams are looking to hold court, and try improve with each game.

““I hope we pick up the defensive intensity,” Gomez said. “I think we can hit the boards a lot harder, and we can possibly cause them to turn the ball over more.”