Portales teams look for focus

By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer

Though both teams are coming off of losses that could be considered wakeup calls, the Portales basketball teams are in very different positions with their playoff fates.

The Portales girls have the No. 1 seed in the District 4-3A tournament two weeks from now, no matter what happens in its next two games. The Ram boys, however, are only partially in control of their fate at 1-2 halfway through the 4-3A season.

“We have to have some help (for the No. 1 seed),” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said. “We have to win out and Lovington would have to beat Ruidoso.

“All I care about is us being able to win three in a row, one at a time.”

The first step in that journey comes tonight in Roswell, where the Rams (10-11) face winless New Mexico Military Institute. In their matchup last Friday in Portales, the Rams led by 20 at the half and cruised to a 59-29 victory.

However, the road changes things, as does the fact that Portales is coming off a 55-36 loss at Ruidoso.

“The way we’re playing right now, we can’t take anything for granted. Ruidoso put it on us pretty good, and they played within three (46-43 win) at NMMI.”

Gallegos said that NMMI’s home court presents problems in any circumstance. If the school’s cadets are in the crowd, the fan support can be overwhelming. If the cadets aren’t there, Gallegos said it’s tough to play in a gym that is virtually empty.

“Either way,” Gallegos said, “we need to build some confidence.”

Confidence doesn’t seem to be the problem for the Portales girls, who resume district play with Saturday’s game at Lovington. Instead, it’s a question of focus after Goddard defeated Portales 45-37 to snap a four-game winning streak.

Portales (16-7) had defeated Goddard 74-44 earlier this season.

“That was a huge wakeup call,” senior Megan Kabrick said. “That was showing us that they improved and we stayed the same.”

The message has resonated at the practices since then, Portales coach Brenda Gomez said.

“I know that’s the case since Wednesday’s practice,” Gomez said. “We were intense, probably had the best practice we’ve had in two months.”

Kabrick said that nothing about the practices are different, except for the way the players are approaching them.

“We’re more focused and more intense,” Kabrick said. “We’re going harder than we have been. There are no different drills. It’s all the same, but we’re going at it harder.”

Gomez said the team will use its final two games to improve. The team is 4-0 in district and has won its four games over Lovington and Ruidoso by an average of 34.5 points.

But then again, the same unbeatable feeling was proven wrong Tuesday at Goddard.

“We can’t take anything for granted anymore,” Gomez said. “You’ve got to play to your potential.”