By Dave Wagner
LAS VEGAS, N.M. — The South squad will have a distinct Portales and District 4-3A flavor in Friday’s Class 3A New Mexico High School Coaches Association all-star basketball game at New Mexico Highlands University.
Eight of the 12 players are from the district, including four from Portales, along with coaches Greg Marez of Ruidoso and Pilar Carrasco of Lovington.
Lady Rams players, who in March captured the school’s third 3A state title in the past four years, are looking for a relaxing experience to cap their high school careers.
“It’s not like a state championship (game),” said Amy Archibeque, a 5-foot-5 guard. “We’re just going to go out there and have fun.
“I’m just really excited to play. I was (originally) picked as an alternate, but they called me about two weeks ago.”
The teams gathered at NMHU on Monday for the start of two-a-day practices. The game is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday at Highlands’ Wilson Complex.
Other Portales players in the game are 5-6 point guard Roni Gomez, 5-6 forward-guard Kassandra Richards and 5-4 wing Erika Cook.
“I think it’ll be neat,” said Gomez, who played for her mother Brenda in high school and plans to continue playing this fall at Garden City (Kan.) Community College.
“It’ll be like a learning experience,” she said of the all-star competition. “Plus I’ll be getting in shape to play (in college). This will be a good experience.”
Gomez has already played in an East-West all-star game in April at The Pit in Albuquerque, and admits she might have a tough time topping that outing.
“We were down by three points with about two seconds left,” she recalled. “I faked this girl up and shot a 3-pointer, and we won the game in overtime.”
The girls are getting used to playing with people they competed against during high school.
“We know the Lovington girls because we’ve played them so much,” Archibeque said. “We’ve gone down there and hung out with them sometimes.”
Cook, who will play at Eastern New Mexico University this fall, said she’s enjoyed seeing her rivals from a different perspective.
“It’s pretty cool, actually, to get to know each other a little bit,” she said. “I’m just excited to play with these other girls. I’ve always thought highly of them.”
Gomez and Richards are rooming together during the camp. Ditto for Archibeque and Cook.
It’s the last time they’ll all be together on the same team.
“It’s tough because me and Roni are such good friends,” Richards said. “We’ve played together a long time.
“It’s kind of weird because we’re playing with all our rivals. But I think it’s going to be exciting — and I think we’re going to win.”
Richards is looking at playing at the junior college level this fall, but said it’s more likely she’ll end up going to school at ENMU. “I’m keeping my options open,” she said.