Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers
As easy as their first-round game turned out to be, the Portales Lady Rams know the rest of Plateau Holiday Classic will be more challenging.
Portales spotted El Paso Ysleta leads of 5-0 and 8-6, then controlled the rest of the contest in cruising to a 56-16 win in the tournament’s first game on Wednesday at Rock Staubus Gym.
“We played our game,” Portales coach Brenda Gomez said, “although at first, we made it a little more difficult than it had to be.”
With no one on their own roster taller than 5-9, the Lady Indians couldn’t contend with Portales’ size. Six-foot-1 senior post Morgan Hill and 6-foot sophomore post Bethany Self each scored 14 points for the Lady Rams (7-4), and 5-10 senior forward Megan Kabrick added 11.
For most of the first quarter, though, it looked like it would be a game. Junior guard Valerie Hernandez hit a pair of 3-pointers to stake the Lady Indians (6-14) to their early leads.
“I think we were just being patient (early) — or like coach said, maybe too patient,” Self said. “We just finally stepped it up.
“We got a lot of shots on the inside. The guards did a good job of getting us the ball.”
Portales went on a 20-0 run over a 9 1/2-minute stretch, and continued to dominate through the second half. The teams played with a running clock over the final seven minutes after the lead reached 35 points.
“We started passing better and seeing the open person (after the slow start),” Gomez said. “I thought Morgan really stepped it up for us since the last time we played.”
Hernandez and senior Yesenia Acosta each finished with six points for the Lady Indians.
Self knows Gallup, led by 6-foot-7 University of New Mexico signee Valerie Kast, will provide a much stiffer test in today’s semifinals.
“We’re probably going to have to be able to shoot more from the outside the next game,” she said. “Gallup’s a pretty big team. We don’t usually see many girls taller than us.”