By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
Running down the court, barking out drill instructions and shouting out plays; Portales boys basketball coach Mark Gallegos is in mid-season form, even if his team isn’t.
In the zero sum world of high school sports, the postseason success of the Ram football team leaves the Ram basketball team dreadfully short at several key positions in the first couple of weeks of basketball practice.
“At the varsity level we’re waiting for six or seven kids (coming back from football),” Gallegos said. “We’re not getting a whole lot done in terms of being prepared for Roswell High.”
But Gallegos was quick to point out that it would be nice to see a Portales football state championship.
“We don’t want to see our football players until the Monday after the state championship game,” Gallegos said.
And if that happens, the full Portales basketball team will have two days to prepare for their season opening game at Roswell High, Dec. 5.
“It’s real hard on us because I know in my head, there’s a lot of stuff that we have to get done, and we’re just not getting there,” Gallegos said.
Once Gallegos finally gets his full team together, he expects the guys coming straight from football must get used to basketball conditioning, as opposed to football conditioning.
“You don’t get 25 seconds in between plays in basketball,” Gallegos said. “We’re going to make some bad passes, we’re going to be in spots that we’re usually not in, so it’s conditioning and a little bit of execution, that’s going to be the hardest part.”
The Rams are coming off a season that saw them win the District 4-3A championship, and lose in the state quarter-finals in overtime to Grants, and Portales senior Chance Sherburne expects them to make another push into the state playoffs.
“We’re expecting to make it to state,” Sherburne said. “Every year coach Gallegos puts us in the position of making it there.”
Along with every other team in District 4-3A, Portales was hit hard by graduation, returning just two starters (Cruz Ontiveros and Sherburne), and carrying over just a handful of seniors.
“Some of these guys will have to play some minutes early in the year,” Gallegos said. “We have some young kids that will have to step up and play.”
“I really just have to take over, and help out the younger guys with some of the plays,” Sherburne said.
According to Gallegos, Lovington and Ruidoso were also victims of graduation, as both teams lost several seniors.
“I think the district is going to be (very competitive),” Gallegos said. “Everybody is in the same boat, we’re all brand new, but I think by the time district rolls around, we’re going to be ready.”
Gallegos also says to expect the usual Portales brand of basketball, slowing the action down, controlling the ball, and making the most of each possession, but he also says the Rams are bigger than they have been in recent years.
“We won’t be very much different at all, We will be a little bit bigger than we have been in the past, so we’re going to try and get the ball inside,” Gallegos said. “We’ve got some kids that can play inside-outside, Chance can play inside-outside, Todd McBroom (can as well) so we’re going to be able to do some things, that we haven’t been able to do in the past.”
The Rams open their season Dec. 5 at Roswell High then host Tucumcari in their home opener Dec. 8.