By Dave Wagner
With a few practices under their belts after a busy start to the season, Portales High boys coach Mark Gallegos is hoping the Rams are ready to hit a consistent stride.
Portales, which has been off since Tuesday after opening the season with five games in eight days, entertains Las Vegas Robertson in a 7 p.m. start on Monday at the PHS gym.
“We’ve had a little bit of time to get on the floor and work on some things,” Gallegos said. “I feel like we’re getting better.”
The Rams (2-3) dropped their home opener to Class 4A Roswell High 66-60 on Tuesday.
“We gave up way too many easy baskets just because we weren’t rotating,” Gallegos said. “I wasn’t real happy with our defensive effort against Roswell.”
Portales will regain the services of 6-foot senior post Bo Gabriel, who sat out the Roswell contest by NMAA rule after he was ejected from the Rams’ previous game.
“It was driving me nuts,” Gabriel said of sitting out. “I was ready to go back to practice after that game. I was tired of sitting.”
The presence of Gabriel, a starter, gives the Rams a boost in depth.
“Bo just adds some athleticism to our rotation,” Gallegos said. “Defensively, he makes a big difference for us.”
The Rams split with Robertson last season. Gabriel noted they finished with just four players due to foulouts in a last-second, one-point loss at Robertson, but came back to spank the Cardinals by 20 points in the Stu Clark Invitational holiday tournament.
Robertson will be playing its fifth game in seven nights, having beaten Mora on Tuesday and then competed in a weekend tournament at Socorro.
The Rams hope to take advantage of possible fatigue for the Cardinals.
“We’re going to get up and press them a little bit,” Gallegos said. “We’ll see if we can’t try to build an early lead and just extend it.”
The Rams had their best night of the season on offense against Roswell High, shooting 43 percent from the field and putting three players in double figures, led by senior guard Chris Carter’s 18 points.
“It all starts on the defensive end for us,” Gabriel said. “If we can get in our press and make them turn the ball over, and take care of the ball (on offense), we should be all right.”