Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Getting in their reps

Staff writer

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TEXICO — All of the basketball, few of the consequences.

That’s the name of the game Monday nights in June, as more than a dozen teams from around eastern New Mexico and West Texas get together for some girl’s basketball at Texico schools.

link Staff photo: Joshua Lucero

Clovis junior Arianna Meza drives for a layup Monday evening during the Clovis Wildcats’ girls summer league basketball game against the Melrose Buffaloes at Texico High School. Monday was the first of four nights for the weekly girls summer league.

The league, which has existed in its current form since 2008, gives teams a six-game regular season over three Mondays, with the league tournament on June 30.

“It’s basically just to give the girls a chance to play,” Texico girls coach Richard Luscombe said. “We get a chance to play some good teams and get two games per night.”

Luscombe said the league doesn’t last long, but it goes long enough to get some instruction in after the girls are done with spring sports and before they start focusing on volleyball in July.

The league, which started under former girls coach Keith Durham, works out well, Luscombe said, because Texico is centrally located, with most teams less than a 30-minute drive, and it can field numerous games each night between its three gyms.

Games are staggered 50 minutes apart, and games rarely run behind schedule because of rules that accentuate a fluid game. The teams play 18-minute halves with a running clock, except for the final minute, and have a brief halftime. Coaches can stop play with timeouts, but usually don’t bother, and no stats are kept.

“We look at is as we get a practice out of it,” Clovis coach Jeff Reed said after cruising to a 53-21 win over Melrose. “It’s good just to go against other people. This is really good for our (younger) girls to gain some experience.”

Reid said the goal is to give the younger players as many minutes as possible, while looking out to make sure nobody picks up bad habits. Clovis has four teams in the league, and some of its varsity players will come in and out of the lineups with other leagues and tournaments in bigger cities. The Clovis girls, with a significant core of last year’s 29-1 squad, left Albuquerque on Sunday night after winning the New Mexico High School Coaches Association All-Star Extravaganza.

Portales is fielding a pair of its younger teams, with assistants Rebekah Mitchell and Amanda Bonner coaching the Rams’ junior varsity and freshmen squads. Mitchell said head coach Wade Fraze has a “let them play” philosophy during summer basketball, which means Mitchell and Bonner don’t concern themselves at all with set plays and instead find small fundamental things to improve. The league also gives Portales the flexibility to try different lineups that it might not risk in a win-loss situation.

“Sometimes they make plays you wouldn’t expect,” MItchell said, “and they perform in ways you didn’t see them perform in the normal season.”

When asked if he ever sees a player do something in league play he’d never seen from them in the normal basketball season, Luscombe said it happened every Monday night.

“Kids are going to make a mistake out there,” Luscombe said, “but all you’re trying to do is get better.”