By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
An offseason removed from state title game appearances, Portales coaches are taking a wait-and-see approach for their basketball teams.
Other than that, the two teams are in different situations based on who is returning for each squad.
The girls, who finished with a 16-12 record in 2004-05 and lost to Santa Fe Indian School in the Class 3A title game, will return a solid nucleus, whenever the volleyball team finishes up.
Assuming the volleyball team reaches the state volleyball tournament — a safe assumption for Class 3A’s top-ranked team, winners of nine straight — those players won’t be available until after the state tournament, set for Nov. 10-12 in Albuquerque.
“We haven’t practiced with anybody, but by the time we start we will have everybody for a couple days,” Portales girls coach Brenda Gomez said. “Out of 12, I have two varsity kids (practicing right now). The JV kids are looking good, so they have a chance to be able to move up.”
Portales’ opener is Nov. 22 at Carlsbad, followed by the opener of a Nov. 29 doubleheader with the boys against Muleshoe, Texas.
Gomez expects a slow start for the team before it gets to contending form.
“We’ll look pretty rough against Carlsbad and Muleshoe,” Gomez said, “but by the second week in December we should be about where I expect them to be.”
The boys, who start the season against Muleshoe, also are waiting on other sports to conclude. Ram coach Mark Gallegos admits that he really won’t know what he has until football season ends.
He does know what his team lost, however. The Rams, who finished a 19-9 season as state runnerups to Bernalillo, lost six seniors from last year’s team, including current Eastern New Mexico University Greyhound Chris Carter.
“We lack a lot of experience,” Gallegos said. “That’s just going to take some time. The only two kids with any varsity experience are Daniel Aranda and Chris Adkins.”
The Rams did gain the services of one player, senior Jerrod Long. Long transferred from Floyd at the end of his junior year and was ineligible for football due to the New Mexico Activities Association’s 90-day transfer rule, but he’s been available for the Rams since May.
“What was big for us was he got to play with us this summer,” Gallegos said of Long. “He’s going to fit in nicely. He’s acclimated really well.
“I’ve been really impressed with what he’s done so far. For us, defense is a big thing and he buys into that.”