The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Rams seek long tournament ride

 

Kevin Wilsno

Portales senior Jase Wallace drives the baseline in a December game against Clovis. The Rams, seeded sixth in Class 4A, will host Navajo Prep in the first round of the state tournament tonight.

PORTALES — Like a roller coaster ride, Portales boys basketball has seen plenty of ups and downs this season, including a few sharp twists and turns. However, as the Rams embark on Class 4A State Tournament, they hope that their ride accelerates 90 miles per hour upward, as they believe that they're as good as any team in the state — regardless of ranking.

"If we play to our capability, we can go far," Rams coach Rickie McBroom explained. "We have to make sure that we play every possession hard. But I think we can do it. We've had a great week of practice, and we've been concentrating on things that we've been doing well, along with correcting things we've struggled with."

Portales (16-12) will open the tournament Saturday at 5 p.m., when it hosts No. 11 Navajo Prep (18-10) in the Round of 16. The Eagles went just 2-4 in District 1-4A play, but won the league title over Shiprock last week — the only team that Navajo has played in this year's tournament field.

The Rams, meanwhile, are far-more battled-tested, having faced seven of the tourney's 16 teams, including district rivals Hope Christian, Moriarty and Ruidoso. Overall, Portales is 6-7 in those games with a 1-5 record against Hope and Moriarty.

However, despite the disparity in valuable pre-tournament preparation, McBroom knows that this 6-11 matchup won't be a walk in the park.

"Defensively, every game we've watched of them on film, they never leave their zone — not one play," McBroom said.

"They run that 2-3 zone and like to extend it a bit. Offensively, they like to shoot the 3. They're very patient until they get the shot that they want. Inside, however, they have some strong kids. They're all only like 5-foot-11, 6-foot, 6-1, but they're strong and tough. We've got some major things that we've been working on all week."

Though the season has had its obvious share of adversity, McBroom has been real proud of how his group has come together over the past month, buying into the coaches and getting a lot closer with one another.

One advantage that Portales has is its depth. McBroom has praised his team all year for having eight or nine guys that can step up any given night. Ultimately, he expects that to continue this postseason.

As for a weakness that Portales has overcome over the course of a challenging season, rebounding has been the key. McBroom had concerns over his inexperienced post play, coming into the 2017-18 campaign, but has seen tons of growth in that area, led not only by the likes of Vince Gardner and Isaac Gomez, but also, willing guards such as Tyrese Dawson, Braden Bridges, Rico Diaz, Ethan Self, etc.

"I really believe over the last three to four weeks, we've gotten better each game," McBroom said. "We've really got to continue that (the rest of the way)."

 

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