Portales senior Ashleah Richards, left, tries to shoot over Chris Carter. The Lady Rams often invite guys to practice so the girls get used to playing against tough competition. (PNT staff photo: Jesse Wolfersberger)
The Portales Lady Rams dominated Class 3A all season, never losing to a team in their own class. Heading into the state tournament, Portales thought they would be the overwhelming favorite. The seeding committee thought otherwise — the Lady Rams were seeded second.
“That is huge motivation to us,” Portales senior Megan Kabrick said. “I’m hoping we’ll make it to the championship game, if we win, we’ll just say, ‘Now we’re number one.’”
Socorro nabbed the top seed after finishing up a 26-1 season. Portales finished 20-6, but Lady Rams coach Brenda Gomez said the records don’t tell the whole story.
“Record — yes — they have a better record than us,” Gomez said. “But they haven’t played Clovis three times, they have not played Hobbs, they have not played Highlands. They haven’t played a schedule (of the same difficulty). So we’ll see.”
All of Portales’ losses came against Class 4A and 5A opponents, including three against the Clovis Lady Wildcats, 5A’s top seed and the defending state champion.
Socorro’s lone loss came to district rival Grants.
“I honestly think we deserve (the first seed),” Kabrick said. “We’ve played 4 and 5A teams all year long. I haven’t really seen Socorro or anything, but, honestly, knowing this team, I think we should have had first. But that’s OK, I forgive ‘em.”
Gomez said the committee knew the Lady Rams were the best team, but seeded Socorro higher to give them an easier road to the finals.
“I don’t think it has anything to do with respect,” Gomez said. “It has to do with who they (the NMAA) want and where they want it. They want Socorro to have the easier road through there. If we get there, to the championship game, I think we have the better team.”
The Lady Rams begin the state tournament in a regional matchup against 15th-seeded Robertson (8-18) at 7 p.m. tonight at Portales High School.
For the last month, the Lady Rams have played only one team not in District 4-3A. Gomez said the team is ready for some new competition.
“I hope our kids are excited to play someone different,” Gomez said. “It’s time that we play somebody else. They’ve played a pretty good schedule in their district. I’m sure their coach will have them prepared and ready to play. Right now, it’s whoever executes the best.”
Because the Lady Rams have been strong all year, tonight’s game is the first must-win game they have had all season. From this point forward, any loss would be the end of the season and the end of the line for the Portales seniors.
“I’m scared,” Kabrick said. “Because I don’t want to go home. It’s my last year and I want the blue (first place trophy).”