Struggling Rams take aim at New Year’s turnaround

By Tony Parra

With the arrival of the new year, Portales boys basketball coach Mark Gallegos is looking for a fresh start.
The Rams have lost seven of their last eight games going into Saturday’s 7 p.m. home game against the West Las Vegas Dons.

The Rams (3-7) practiced on Thursday for the first time since the tournament.

“We needed some time off to rejuvenate our batteries,” Gallegos said. “I think our record is a bit misleading. We have gone through a lot of adversity and we are a young team. We’ve played some tough teams this year.”

West Las Vegas (8-1) is coming off of its first loss of the season to Santa Fe Capital in the Stu Clark tournament title game. The Dons are led by guards Mike Martinez and Enrique Cavazos.

“They are a senior-heavy team,” Gallegos said. “They have a lot of confidence. They are well-balanced and they like to press and get up and down the court. They also like to shoot three-pointers.”

West Las Vegas plays against Espanola Valley today before traveling to play Portales.

“It’s a little bit of an advantage to play them after their Espanola game,” Gallegos said. “But it’s hard to say. We haven’t played since the Stu Clark tournament so I hope we don’t come out flat. They will have just played so they may be warmed up heading into our game.”

Senior forward Russell Knudson is expected to return Saturday from a knee injury, which kept him out since Dec. 12, Gallegos said.

“He’s going to give us a boost,” Gallegos said. “He had a partially dislocated knee cap, hurting his patella tendon. He has gone through some physical therapy and has been cleared to play. We’re not sure how much he will play, but his presence on the floor will improve our team. He is one of our leaders.”

The Rams are coming off their second loss of the season to Bernallilo. Portales has lost to Santa Fe Capital (a 4A team), Moriarty, Las Vegas Robertson and Roswell to go with the two Bernallilo losses during their 1-6 stretch.

“The kids are exited and looking forward to playing their second home game this year,” Gallegos said. “We would like to have a big crowd to support us.”