Portales routs Lady Mules with defense

Portales senior Megan Kabrick shoots a turnaround jumper against Muleshoe’s Ashley Grumbles in the first half of Tuesday’s game. (Freedom Newspapers: Leslie Spence)

By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers

Even with 18 points, Morgan Hill thought defense was the most important aspect of Portales’ 54-26 rout of Muleshoe.

Even with Navy’s hoops team waiting for the senior post, it’s all about the here and now for Hill and her Portales teammates.

“I know it’s going to be harder (with people saying), ‘Morgan Hill’s going Division-I,’” Hill said. “I’m not playing to please anybody. I’m playing for the team. I’m playing for a state championship.”

After sickness kept her out of the team’s season opener at Carlsbad, Hill did her part for a Portales team that overwhelmed the visiting Lady Mules to stay undefeated in a young season.

Hill scored eight of the first 12 points for Portales (2-0), which never trailed and held Muleshoe without a field goal for a 10:22 stretch that bridged the second and third quarters.

“I think we definitely picked (things) up on defense,” Portales coach Brenda Gomez said. “That was a much better defensive game than it was (in a 59-43 win) against Carlsbad.”

The defense let up in the second half as Portales’ lead stretched to as much as 32, but the defense held Muleshoe (1-4) to two-first half field goals, one of them a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Kasey Wood to close a 17-5 first quarter.

Muleshoe coach Shana Simms said that Portales’ height was a difference — senior post Megan Kabrick chipped in 12 for the Lady Rams — but the Lady Mules didn’t help themselves much either.

“We didn’t put ourselves into very good positions,” Simms said. “We didn’t block out very well, and their tall girls capitalized on that. I give (Portales) a lot of credit, but we put ourselves in bad positions.”

Muleshoe, which plays Lockney Thursday morning at a tournament in Nazareth, was led by Kacey Wood with 12 points, including three 3-pointers. Portales spent a lot of defensive effort on Brandi Wood, Muleshoe’s only returning starter from last season, and held her to two points from the free-throw line.

“(Teams have) been keying on her and it’s been tough for her,” Simms said. “We’ve got to figure out how to get her open.”

Portales will remain at home this week, with a Friday game against defending 5A champ Clovis.

In the junior varsity game, Portales defeated Muleshoe 45-33.