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

Year in review: Ram title highlight for county in 2019

 

January 5, 2020



The crown jewel of Roosevelt County’s 2019 high school sports season had to be Portales’ football team winning the state 4A championship on Thanksgiving weekend.

But that was near the end of the year. It was basketball season when 2019 began.

Winter

Portales’ girls basketball team had posted a come-from-behind victory to win the 2018 state championship, and was hoping for a title repeat in 2019.

And that title defense did get off to a promising start, as the Lady Rams opened the ’19 state tournament with a 42-36 first-round win over Artesia on March 8 at Portales High’s Ram Athletic Center, a game the Lady Rams trailed 7-0 early and 36-26 with 3:09 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Codi Flores helped seal the comeback victory with four free throws in the game’s final minute.

Next up for Portales was a tough quarterfinal draw against top-seeded Kirtland at the Pit, and there the title defense came to an end, 71-39.

Still, it was a solid 16-12 season for the Lady Rams, who were transitioning with some newer players.

“I think it’s tremendous,” Portales head coach Wade Fraze said of his younger players’ tournament experience. “There are a lot of freshmen, for sure, and sophomores who receive this many minutes or this level of competition that they’ve seen the last two games.”

The Elida girls program had its state-championship streak halted at eight.

Spring

The spring season’s best Roosevelt County showing was that of Dora’s baseball team.

The Coyotes took their 15-4 record and No. 2 seed into the Class A championship game at the University of New Mexico’s Santa Ana Star Field on May 18. But they ran headlong into top-seeded and undefeated Gateway Christian, and the game played out the way one might expect against a team with those adjectives — a 12-0, five-inning loss for Dora.

Gateway Christian pitcher Jaydon Stephens turned in a stellar effort on the mound, while Dora committed eight errors — neither a recipe for victory.

“I think we saved our worst game of the season for last,” Coyotes head coach Mason McBee said. “I don’t think we would’ve beaten anybody on this day. You can’t beat a good team playing like that.”

A 15-win season and state-championship-game appearance still made it a memorable spring for Dora.

“I’m proud of the kids,” McBee said. “We have a lot of kids who are first-year players. We just didn’t play well today.”

Portales’ softball team posted a winning record, going 15-14 after losing 17-0 to second-seeded Los Lunas in the state tournament, and 3-1 to Bernalillo in the consolation round, despite outhitting the latter 10-7.

“It was a tougher season,” said Portales head coach Nathan Dodge, who stepped down when that season was over. “The competition got tougher in 4A.”

Fall

The county had two football teams reach state championship games, but only one surviving as a champion.

Elida had been rolling past everyone. Under first-year head coach Jereme Woodruff, the Tigers won their first nine games by a combined score of 516-63, beating their opponents by an average of 57-7. Among the Tigers’ wins was a 62-12 neutral-site thrashing of Animas, the team that had beaten them in the previous year’s six-man championship game. And there was a 49-6 rout over Springer/Maxwell at Elida High School 34 days later on Oct. 4.

So back into Elida came Springer/Maxwell for the Nov. 9 six-man title game. But this time, not only was there no rout, but the Tigers lost the championship contest 29-26.

“People saw the scores all season and expected us to win big,” Woodruff said. “But it’s hard to beat people. ... Last time (Springer) didn’t necessarily play any worse, they just executed better (this time). All the credit to them.”

Portales’ football team posted a 9-1 regular season, capped by a 35-13 win over Lovington in the District 3/4-4A championship game on Nov. 1 at Greyhound Stadium.

Then came the state playoffs, during which the Rams allowed just 14 total points in three games. There was a 33-7 quarterfinal win over Silver at Greyhound Stadium on Nov. 16, a 26-7 semifinal victory at Lovington on Nov. 23 and finally, a 23-0 shutout at Bloomfield on Nov. 30, giving Portales a 12-1 state championship season.

“It’s something no one can take away from you. It just feels really good to finish my high school career like this,” said Portales defensive end Philip Blidi, who will play for Texas Tech beginning next fall. “I just wanted to go out with a bang.”

Portales’ volleyball team was tough to beat during the regular season.

Then the Lady Rams lost at Goddard, 3-2, in the District 4-4A championship match on Nov. 9. In the state tournament at Rio Rancho’s Santa Ana Star Center, Portales lost 3-0 to Albuquerque Academy, swept Miyamura 3-0, before ultimately losing 3-2 against Hope Christian, ending the season at 19-7.

2020 seems to be a promising year for Roosevelt County.

 
 

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