Portales senior Ashleah Richards hits a 3-pointer over a defender in practice. A chorus of “oohs” echoes through the gym. It’s not that the 3-ball was anything special. It’s that the defender was a guy.
About once a week Portales coach Brenda Gomez invites some males to practice to give her team some fresh competition. Gomez said bringing in guys helps keep practice fresh, especially considering the Lady Rams have played only once last week, will play only once this week, and will have to wait another week for the state tournament to begin.
“It just kind of amps up the intensity,” Gomez said. “We’ve played against each other a lot. They don’t really know our offenses and we’re going up against stronger, faster people.”
Portales (19-6) hosts Lovington (9-16) in the District 4-3A tournament championship game at 7 p.m. tonight at Portales High School.
Playing against guys is like using a batting donut in baseball. After swinging a bat with a weight on it, a bat by itself seems light.
“It’s a lot harder,” Richards said. “But it makes us want to beat them that much more because they’re guys. It’s going to help us later on in the season.”
Certainly, no prep girls team can boast a squad like the one the Lady Rams scrimmaged this week. Some of the players were from the Portales junior varsity basketball team. Three, William Parker, Brandon Dominguez, and Patrick Hemphill, are football players for Eastern New Mexico University.
Considering the Lady Rams have beaten Lovington by marks of 64-20 and 66-21 this season, playing against boys at practice might be the best competition Portales sees until the state tournament starts next week.
“They just don’t have as many weapons as we have,” Gomez said of the Lady Wildcats. “So we can kind of shut them down.”
Freshman guard Tara Johnson summed up the Lady Rams’ anticipation for the state tourney.
“I’m tired of practice,” she said.
Gomez said she still focuses on fundamentals for one hour in every practice, even late into the season.
“We’re trying to change up practice, do different drills,” Gomez said. “We just have to keep doing the same things, but differently I guess.”
Win or lose, the Lady Rams have another long week of practice waiting for their next game so they will just have to focus on making the guys look bad.
“They get all mad and they say, ‘oh you can’t do that again,’” Johnson said.