Portales junior Billy Good takes a shot after practice Monday evening at the Portales High School gym. Good is coming off an ankle and knee injury and hopes to play in Portales’ home district opener Friday.
Portales boys head basketball Mark Gallegos believes his Rams are playing at a different level from which they began their season several weeks ago, and believes his squad is ready to begin defense of their District 4-3A championship Tuesday as Portales (7-7) starts their district schedule at Roswell’s New Mexico Military Institute (7-10).
When the season began, Gallegos’ biggest headache was team defense, and he said the Rams have made great strides in both man and zone defense in the last several weeks.
“We’ve come a long way,” Gallegos said. “We’re getting a lot better, but we still have room for improvement. I think the biggest thing is consistency. When we want to, we can shut people down but we just have to be consistent in doing it all the time.”
The Rams are coming off a fifth place finish at the Hope Christian tournament in Albuquerque last week.
“We had a good weekend in Albuquerque,” Gallegos said. “I think we came out of there a little bit better. We had a chance to work on some things and we had a good day of practice (Monday).”
“I have a real good feeling (about district play),” Gallegos continued.
Junior Billy Good is out for tonight’s district opener, and is questionable for the rest of the week with ankle and knee injuries.
“Walker Partin’s going to have to step back in there, and I have full confidence in Walker that he can do the job,” Gallegos said.
Good stayed after practice Monday evening shooting the ball trying to work out his sore ankle and knee.
“We’re looking for a win,” Good said. “That would start us out good and get our confidence up.”
Several NMMI Colts became eligible after the holidays, and according to Gallegos, the Colts will also have all-district, six-foot senior guard DeMarcus Doucette eligible for the first time this season in tonight’s district opener.
“He can handle it and shoot it,” Gallegos said. “He poses a big problem for us. We had a hard time defending him last year.”
Doucette scored 10 points for the Colts in the Rams’ overtime district championship victory over NMMI last season.
The Colts also play in the intimidating Cahoon Armory on the campus of NMMI, with hundreds of cadets making plenty of noise.
“It’s an imposing force and the kids love to play in front of all of the cadets,” Gallegos said. “The kids look forward to it, they want a full house because it’s a fun environment to play in and that’s what basketball is all about.”
“It’s going to be a big-time rivalry game and we need to pick one up on the road,” Gallegos said. “It’s a big game.”
Following the district opener, the Rams host Ruidoso Friday night before welcoming Lovington Tuesday, and Gallegos hopes the sixth man makes an appearance in the Portales home district games.
“Our student body always kind of looks forward to district teams coming to town, so I hope they’re getting fired up and getting ready to go,” Gallegos said.