By Kevin Wilson
From a fast break to a break between seasons, the concept of transition carries weight in high school basketball.
The Portales Lady Rams are one game through this current transition, but a 63-23 win over Artesia was never much of a test for the defending Class 3A champs.
The three top scorers for Portales in Tuesday night’s opener were the same as they were last season — Kassandra Richards (22), Megan Kabrick (14) and Erika Cook (10) — but the Lady Rams used a blowout win to give playing time to several varsity newcomers.
“It was good to have a game before Clovis (Saturday) to get some of those first-game jitters out,” Portales coach Brenda Gomez said.
While the new Lady Rams adjusted, returning varsity members carried the offensive load.
Kabrick, a 5-foot-10 post, scored 10 of her 14 points in the first quarter to help Portales put the game away early, while Richards provided much of the Lady Rams’ second-half offense as Gomez ensured that every player on the roster saw the floor.
Against a small Artesia frontcourt, Kabrick was able to position herself for easy layups throughout. Kabrick and Morgan Hill (6-0) looked much more comfortable as sophomores than they did as freshmen.
“Experience is one of the big things, but (my teammates) are helping,” Kabrick said. “They’ve helped me since the start, but it’s mainly experience.”
Artesia led only once, 3-2 on a trey by Jeannette Marquez, but didn’t hit a field goal for a seven-minute stretch in the first to pave the way for the rout. Portales’ guards harassed Artesia into 22 turnovers, and the Lady Bulldogs couldn’t find too many good shots.
“When we did get them, we couldn’t make open shots,” Artesia coach Billy Mondragon said. “We couldn’t get our offense going at all, period.”
Portales had no such problems. The Lady Rams shot 21 of 47 from the field, but that figure included a 1-for-14 stretch with only one starter on the floor.
Gomez felt she got solid play from several varsity newcomers, including forward Ashleah Richards (eight points) and guard Patty Terry.
“I think Ashleah Richards and Patty will contribute,” Gomez said. “Tonight, you just couldn’t tell.”
Senior Roni Gomez added five for Portales.
Marisella Morillon led the Lady Bulldogs with eight, while Marquez added seven.
The Lady Rams will continue their season-opening homestand on Saturday, as they take on 5A title contender Clovis. All parties involved know the intensity will pick up for the sister city matchup.
“We’ll have to execute a lot better, but with Clovis’ style, we will,” Gomez said. “They have skill and basketball sense.”
Notes: Portales played without senior guard Amy Archibeque. She will likely be out until the Christmas break, doing rehabilitation on the posterior cruciate ligament she injured during volleyball season. … The Portales basketball teams will have a fundraiser today from 11:10 a.m. to 12:30 at the high school gym. The Ram coaches said the activity would be similar to a “Midnight Madness” event, with scrimmages and various contests for both players and audience members.