By Kevin Wilson
Sports are about winning, but they’re also about how one deals with falling short of expectations. Portales junior guard Bo Gabriel has had such a shot in two sports.
In his second year of grade school, Gabriel had a skateboarding accident which chipped a front tooth. Nine years later, he has a tooth implant and a chip on his shoulder.
“I hate skaters today,” Gabriel joked after Thursday’s basketball practice.
In his second year of high school, Gabriel was part of the Ram varsity squad, but didn’t get a lot of playing time.
His reaction this time was one of determination. The 6-foot-1, 180-pound forward has started his days with a 6:15 a.m. workout and has ended his afternoons by staying after practice with teammates until Portales coach Mark Gallegos tells them it’s time to leave.
It’s that kind of work ethic that Gabriel hopes will pay off as Portales comes off a season in which it graduated seven players. Gabriel wants to be one of the guys who help the Rams stay competitive in District 4-3A, and possibly beyond.
“I’m pretty sure everyone wants to win state,” Gabriel said. “I’d like to beat Lovington and Clovis this year, too.”
Gabriel talks of personal goals in regards to the team. He said his offense has improved through the extra workouts, but will be the first to admit the offensive threats will most likely be junior guards Chris Carter and Chris Kirchner.
Gallegos values the maturity that Gabriel has coming into his junior season, first evidenced by a willingness to put in extra hours with him and junior varsity coach Rick Apodaca.
“You’ll notice the difference in him,” Gallegos said. “You’ll notice the confidence, how he does a lot of the little things.
“The nice thing about Bo is that he knows all five positions. He can play all five positions.”
Versatility is the theme for Gabriel, and it may be the theme for the entire Ram squad.
“I just think we have a lot more weapons instead of guys just being able to do one thing,” he said.
The Rams have a lot of time to prepare for their opener at the Shallowater Shootout Dec. 4-6. What they don’t have to prepare for are expectations.
Lovington, the Class 3A runnerup last season, is the favorite to win this year and Ruidoso could legitimately have an all-senior roster. Still, Gallegos and his players remain optimistic.
“I think a lot of people are looking past this year for us, except for the 12 guys who are on the floor,” Gallegos said. “I don’t think there’s any one that doesn’t think we can’t get out of district. They just expect it.”
Gabriel is working hard to see that it happens.