A changing of the guard for Portales

By Kevin Wilson

A few coaches in Class 3A might take a trip down to Portales in May — you know, just to make sure Kassandra Richards, Roni Gomez and Erika Cook do indeed graduate from Portales High School.
Portales’ four seniors, including Amy Archibeque, leave behind a run of back-to-back state titles, the second coming with Friday’s 63-46 win over Socorro.
Lady Ram coach Brenda Gomez doesn’t want the run to end there, and she’s optimistic that teams will have a new nucleus to worry about.
The onus will be on the current sophomore class — Patty Terry is the team’s only junior — and Gomez feels she has four sophomores who got enough experience this season to keep Portales competitive next season.
All four — Morgan Hill, Megan Kabrick, Ashleah Richards and Joni Brakebill — are sophomores, and all four play post.
“I think those four are going to be the core,” Gomez said, “and it looks like we have some other kids that are going to be able to step in.”
At this point last year, Gomez had a pretty good idea of what the next season’s starting lineup would look like. This year, she sees a huge opening at the point guard position, an opening she hopes can be filled during the summer.
“I think we’re going to have to find some people that can get a lot of playing time this summer,” Gomez said. “We’re going to have to come up with a point guard that can run the show, and a lot of people (could take that role).”
A prime candidate, Rebekah Gonzales, is also a sophomore. Gonzales is one of three guards that will return for Portales next season (including Terry and freshman Briana Hernandez), and she’s trying to prepare in case her number gets called.
“I just know that I have some big shoes to fill,” Gonzales said, “but I think I can do it along with my teammates and God.”
Gonzales said she is working on her long-range shooting, to help prevent liberal double-teaming against Hill and Kabrick. With a strong inside presence, the Lady Rams will likely move away from their three-guard offense, but Gomez still thinks a new point guard is vital to the team’s success.
“You always have to get it to (the post players),” Gomez said. “I’ve been very fortunate for the past eight years to have somebody on the floor that knew how I thought. I think they dictated how successful we were.”
Gonzales said the team is planning on attending four camps or leagues over the summer, and she plans to play in all of them in preparation for next season. Gonzales played the last two offseasons with the summer program.
“It helps a lot,” Gonzales said, “because we go to the big team camps and we play bigger teams and tougher competition.”
Still, Gonzales knows she may not be the starting point guard next season — her focus is to be the best choice when next October comes around.
“I have quite a few options,” Gomez said. “I think it will totally depend on what they work on this summer. I think we have some shooters, I think we have some kids that can pass it inside, and we have some kids that can score inside.”