By Jesse Wolfersberger: Freedom Newspapers
LBUQUERQUE — No point in being greedy, according to Portales senior Morgan Hill, after she helped the Lady Rams to win their third Class 3A state title in four years.
Portales made it to the finals in 2005, but was upset by Santa Fe Indian School.
“I don’t want to think about last year, I’m too happy right now,” said Hill, who collected 16 points and 12 rebounds in Friday’s 58-35 demolition of Socorro in the title game at The Pit.
Fellow senior Ashleah Richards said winning in her senior season was more important to her than any of the other titles.
“We went out on top, that’s all that matters,” Richards said.
Portales players and head coach Brenda Gomez pointed to an early February loss to Roswell Goddard as helping the Lady Rams refocus.
Senior Megan Kabrick, who scored 17 points in Thursday’s semifinal win over Santa Fe Indian, said the Lady Rams went into the second meeting overconfident.
“That was a big disappointment,” she said. “Goddard is a good team, but I think we just went into it with a big head.”
Gonzales said Portales made a commitment to be better prepared in the future.
“After that game, we just all decided that we were going to work hard together,” Gonzales said. “And just not let it happen again because we didn’t want to get embarrassed like we did against Goddard.”
Richards gives the credit for Portales’ success — four titles in six years — to her veteran head coach.
“Coach Gomez is the best coach. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here right now,” Richards said during the post-championship game press conference.
Portales (24-6), which didn’t lose to a Class 3A opponent this season and beat Class 5A state champion Gallup, returns two starters to next year’s team in freshman Tara Johnson and junior guard Briana Hernandez.
“We’ll be back,” said Hernandez, who scored 13 points in the title game. “I know we will. We work so hard all season long, no matter what, so we’ll work as hard as we can to make it here again.”
Gomez said this senior class was remarkable on and off the court.
“All of them were great leaders in all kinds of aspects,” Gomez said. “It will be (tough). People are just going to have to step up and take on those roles.”
Sophomore post Bethany Self, who played key minutes when Hill sat with foul trouble in the championship game, is another player expected to take an expanded role.
Gomez fully expects growing pains early next season.
“I think we’ll be down a little bit,” Gomez said. “You have to be down a little bit when you lose the players that we lost. But I think we have players to fill those spots. It will probably take at least half the season. They’ll do it a little differently, but they’ll be able to do it I think.”