Portales basketball title marks busy, successful year of sports

It was a championship season for one Portales squad, a winning season for six others, and a busy playoff schedule for most of the Ram squads.

The girls basketball squad claimed its seventh title in school history with an upset of top-ranked Shiprock. It was one of 11 teams to qualify for its respective state tournament. Additionally, both tennis squads and the girls golf team sent representatives to the individual championships.

Joshua Lucero: File photo The Portales girls basketball team upset top-seeded Shiprock for its seventh title in school history.

Joshua Lucero: File photo
The Portales girls basketball team upset top-seeded Shiprock for its seventh title in school history.

In total, Portales’ teams went a combined 124-88, led by the 25-5 effort from the Portales girls basketball team.

Volleyball
How they fared: 17-6, 4-0 in District 4-3A. District champion. Lost to eventual state champion Pojoaque in Class 3A semifinals.
Notable: Portales went 7-1 in Class 3A play, with its other match losses coming to Clovis, Roswell, Goddard and Artesia (twice). This was the fifth consecutive season the Ram season ended with a defeat to Pojoaque. The first three times all came in the state title game, while the other two were quarterfinal or semifinal defeats. Both schools now have six Class 3A championships, tops in the class. Ruth Chavez, who finished her 13th year as head coach, has taken Portales to eight Class 3A title games, with four wins and four runnerup finishes. Portales loses eight seniors to graduation, but return outside hitters Bailey Rowley and Kambrey Blakey.

Football
How they fared: 6-5, 1-1 in District 4-3A. Runnerup in district. No. 8 seed in Class 3A tournament. Lost to No. 9 Robertson 36-0.
Notables: The Rams, in their second season under Jaime Ramirez, got its biggest contributions from senior quarterback Daniel Sanchez and sophomore running back Bronte Staugaard. Sanchez completed 110 of 242 passes for 14 touchdowns to eight different targets. Staugaard, meanwhile, carried 208 times for 1,433 yards and 13 touchdowns and had three more scores on 26 receptions for 265 yards. Without Sanchez, the Rams should still have options at quarterback. Junior Matt Martinez, an emergency starter in Portales’ regular season finale, led the Rams to a 20-17 win over Lovington. It was Portales’ first win over Lovington in the regular season since 1994, and just the third in 26 previous matchups, though one of those wins was for the 2008 Class 3A title. The game against Robertson was the third consecutive time the teams had faced each other to open the Class 3A playoffs.

Girl’s Soccer
How they fared: Girls 7-13, 5-5 in district. No, 9 seed in Class 3A tournament. Lost 1-0 to No. 8 Socorro. Started the season 2-2, but never reached .500 again after a six-match losing skid. The season was not without its highlights, though, both on and off the field. Coach Sara Vasquez briefly missed time on the sidelines due to the birth of her son, Kellan Ryan, in October, but returned for a 4-0 win over Desert Academy to close out the regular season. Portales loses nine seniors to graduation.

Boy’s Soccer
How they fared: 8-11, 4-6. No, 11 seed in Class 3A tournament. Lost 4-1 to No. 6 Hope Christian. Hovered around .500 most of the season, including winning three of their last four regular season games to offset a four-game skid midseason. Despite fielding a young squad first-year coach Nathan Dodge noted an exciting season with district wins over third-ranked St. Michael’s and fifth-ranked Santa Fe Prep. Brandon Gomez, the team’s only senior, led the Rams with 11 goals in 13 games. Junior Jose Barron, who had seven goals and two assists in 16 games, is Portales’ leading returning scorer.

Boy’s basketball
How they fared: 16-14, 2-2 in District 4-3A. Runnerup in district. No. 9 seed in Class 3A tournament. Defeated No. 8 Wingate 54-49, lost to No. 1 Hope Christian 78-49.
Notables: Against a schedule with a mix of Class 2A, 3A, 4A and 5A teams, Portales stayed just at or above .500 most of the season, including a four-game streak to put the Rams at 7-4 on the year. Portales was the first team to hang a loss on then 13-0 and eventual Class 2A runnerup Texico. Portales ended up third in the district tournament through a three-way tiebreaker, but beat Ruidoso on the road 65-50 in the district tournament semifinal before falling 58-50 to Lovington in the title game. The Rams graduate eight seniors, many of whom were part of 33 wins over the last two seasons,

Girl’s basketball
How they fared: 25-5, Class 3A champions. 2-2 in District 4-3A. Runnerup in district. No. 3 seed in Class 3A tournament. Defeated No. 14 Santa Fe Indian 63-60, No. 6 Sandia Prep 49-42, No. 2 Lovington 54-46, No. 1 Shiprock 62-59, OT.
Notables: Under first-year head coach and longtime assistant Wade Fraze, Portales captured its first state title since 2006 and seventh in school history. Fraze was named the Class 3A Coach of the Year by Maxpreps. Sophomore Kambrey Blakey was named both 3A player of the year and sophomore of the year by Maxpreps, largely for her performance in the playoffs. She averaged 27.3 points and 10.3 rebounds in the Rams’ three games in Albuquerque.
For the season, she averaged 17.1 points, 6.6 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. Shiprock was 29-0 heading into the title game. Portales’ win, coupled with Lovington’s back-to-back titles, means the District 4-3A runnerup has finished as state champion the last three years. Portales’ only losses on the season came to Lovington (three) and Class 5A opponents Mayfield and Clovis.

Track
How they fared: Both teams finished second in District 4-3A and brought more than a dozen athletes to the state meet. The girls team scored 17 points at the Class 3A state meet to finish tied for ninth with Pojoaque. The boys scored 12 points to finished in 11th at state. For the girls, sophomore Hannah Cabledue set the Portales High school record in pole vault and won the 3A event with a vault of 10 feet. Other points for the Lady Rams came from sophomore Sheraya Cox, sixth in the 200, and the fourth-place 1,600 relay team of freshmen Taryn Kizer and Sophie Cissell, eighth-grader Kelly Fraze and Cox, who ran a season-best 4:16.15 for fourth place. For the boys, Junior Michael Nichols was fifth in the 100 hurdles and third in the 300 hurdles, while senior Matthew Shelly was sixth in the 100 hurdles. The 1,600 medley relay team of Jaime Sotelo, Cruz Belden, Miguel Garza and Shelly finished fifth, as did the 1,600 relay team of David Viera, Kobi Shillings, Henry Sorrano and Nichols.

Golf
How they fared: Both Portales’ boys and girls squads featured young teams and a new coach. Charity Gomez entered her first season with the girls, while 2001 Portales High graduate Matt Hunton took over the boys program. Sophomore Bailey Rowley was the only state qualifier for either squad, and shot a 94 during the two-day state meet to finish 13th in Class 1A-3A competition.

Tennis
How they fared: Girls, 7-4, 4-2 in district. District champion. No. 5 seed in Class 1A-3A, lost to No. 4 Hope Christian 7-2. Boys, 2-7, 0-4 in district. Third in district tournament. Seeded seventh in Class 1A-3A, lost to No. 2 Hope Christian 9-0.
Notables: Portales put three entries in the individual tournaments, with all three advancing to the quarterfinals. Jessie Privett, seeded seventh, lost to No. 2 Megan Lynch of New Mexico Military Institute. Portales’ other entries were both in doubles — juniors Samantha Lopez and Belle Youngerwolf as the No. 5 seed, and juniors Hannah Evans and McKenzie Bucksath seeded seventh. The boys’ season was the first under Brown, a . Junior Austin Lucero was Portales’ top singles player with a 7-10 mark, and advanced to the singles tournament in Albuquerque.  He was knocked out 6-2, 6-4 by Taos’ Marcus Hofer-Curl in the opening round.

Baseball
How they fared: 16-13, 5-3 District 4-3A. First place in district. No. 8 seed in Class 3A tournament. Defeated No. 9 Shiprock in opening series, lost 15-5 to No. 1 Silver.
Notable: A young coach, 2001 Portales High graduate Dusty Nusser, inherited a young team for his first campaign. The team was certainly streaky, starting off the season 6-2 before going on a six-game skid. The Rams broke out of their slump with perfect timing, beating Lovington twice on the road to open District 4-3A play. The Rams were swept in Ruidoso when they needed only one win to clinch district, but got some help from Lovington later to claim the 4-3A title anyway. Portales also got a home split with Lovington, despite being no-hit in the opener and scoring just one run in the nightcap. The Rams should be strong next season, with only Daniel Sanchez and Jarret Faust lost to graduation.

Softball
How they fared: 21-10, 8-0 District 4-3A. First place in District. No. 2 seed in Class 3A tournament. Tournament: Defeated Hot Springs 15-0, defeated Pojoaque 16-0, lost to Bloomfield 8-4, lost to Robertson 4-3.
Notables: Portales had hiccups in the schedule, but rarely struggled. The Rams started the year 5-0, and won 13 of their final 15 to close out the season. The two losses during that stretch came against West Las Vegas in a game called after five innings due to scheduling conflicts for the Lady Dons and a walk-off defeat to 5A Clovis. Portales had 17 games end early via the run rule, but had numerous walk-off wins, including a wild 10-9 triumph over Hope Christian after the Huskies tied matters on a two-out grand slam in the seventh April 12 at Portales. Portales loses six seniors, but returns third baseman Kailee Ramirez and pitcher Kiersten Ramirez. Longtime assistant coach Scott Parker also leaves, opting for retirement after 34 years of teaching between Portales, Texico and Eastern New Mexico University.

— Compiled by Kevin Wilson