Portales players prep for showcase games

By Kevin Wilson

For one, it’s a chance to revisit the past. For another, it’s a chance to determine a future.
Two Portales High School seniors are preparing their first of two postseason basketball all-star games, starting this weekend at Canyon, Texas, and Albuquerque and ending in Las Vegas, N.M. this summer.
Roni Gomez is in Albuquerque preparing for Saturday’s Bernalillo County East vs. West All-Star Game, while Erika Cook is heading to Canyon today for the Golden Spread All-Star Game.
Each player was on the Portales varsity for four seasons, helping the Lady Rams won three Class 3A state titles.
The last two titles have come on the floor of The Pit in Albuquerque, which is where Gomez is playing for one last time as part of a loaded West squad that includes Rachael Pfaff of St. Pius and Class 5A player of the year Brio Rode from Rio Rancho.
“It was really emotional to play last time here,” Gomez said. “I think we’re going to do pretty well. This is awesome having all of those people, as good as they are.”
Cook, meanwhile, is getting a chance to catch up with former Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teammates — Jazzi Walls of Texico and Tori Barton of Muleshoe.
“I’m excited to get to play with some people I used to play with in AAU,” Cook said. “I think we’re just better players, all of us. It was cool catching up with them.”
Gomez had the option to play in the Golden Spread games, but chose the Bernalillo County event instead.
“I heard that you get more exposure,” Gomez said, referring to college recruiters. “I’m looking at Cochise in Arizona and Garden City in Kansas. I’m looking for a junior college so I can get some playing time.”
Cook, meanwhile, is still deciding between Eastern New Mexico University and Angelo State.
The pair, however, will be reunited along with fellow senior Kassandra Richards for this summer’s Class 3A North-South All-Star game in Las Vegas, N.M.