Portales wins 3rd state title in four years

Portales sophomore Ashleah Richards and teammates hold up the Class 3A state championship trophy Friday at The Pit in Albuquerque. Freedom Newspapers: Rick White

By Rick White

ALBUQUERQUE — Three seniors synonymous with Portales girls basketball went out in style Friday as the Lady Rams captured their second-straight Class 3A state basketball and third championship in four years.

Kassandra Richards finished with her second double-double of the tournament with 21 points and 10 rebounds and the Lady Rams pulled away in the second half with a 63-46 win over Socorro at The Pit.

“I just went out and played hard in what will be probably my last game I’ll ever play, at least with these girls,” the 5-foot-7 senior sharpshooter said. “It’s our senior year and we wanted to go out No. 1.”

It was an emotional exit for seniors Richards, Roni Gomez and Erika Cook, the common components in all three state titles.

“This year has gone by so fast,” said Cook, who finished with two points, seven rebounds and a team-high five assists. “You know it’s your last year and the next thing you know, it’s over.”

Sophomore Morgan Hill added 16 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks for the Lady Rams (23-4), finishing the season on a 12-game winning streak.

Sophomore post Audra Major muscled her way for 22 points and 15 rebounds, but she didn’t get help from her Socorro teammates. The Lady Warriors (24-6) were making their first state championship game appearance.

Socorro coach Joseph Garcia said Portales is clearly the top Class 3A program in the state.

“If they could, they’d be playing for the Class 4A state championship and would probably make the final four in Class 5A,” said Garcia, who has led Socorro to nine state playoff appearances in his 15 years at the school.

Portales took control of the game with a 13-6 run over the first six minutes of the third quarter. The run included a Gomez 3-pointer and a pair of Richards buckets, one on an offensive rebound and the other a fastbreak layup off a feed from Cook.

Socorro never got closer than 11 points the rest of the way as Portales spread the floor and drew the Lady Warriors out of their signature zone defense.

Portales led by as many as 22 points in the fourth quarter before Socorro made a late push.

“Once we were able to spread the floor we able to penetrate and dish the ball off,” said Portales coach Brenda Gomez, who won her fourth title. “On defense, we switched 1-3-1 defense, which made it harder for them to get the ball inside to Major.”

Portales 63, Socorro 46
Socorro (24-6) —
Peralta 3-4 0-0 6, Garcia 0-1 0-0 0, Major 9-18 4-8 22, Armijo 1-9 1-2 4, Baldonado 0-0 2-2 2, Mounya 1-7 1-2 3, Pineda 0-0 2-2 2, Vega 0-1 0-0 0, Monette 3-8 1-1 7, Bruton 0-2 0-0 0, Vega 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-51 11-17 046.
Portales (23-4) — Gonzales 0-0 0-0 0, Brakebill 4-7 0-0 8, Archibeque 0-0 0-0 0, Cook 0-7 2-3 2, Terry 0-0 0-0 0, Gomez 6-9 0-2 13, K. Richards 7-14 6-6 21, McAfee 0-0 0-0 0, Hill 7-9 2-5 16, A. Richards 1-5 11-18. Totals 25-51 11-18 63.
Socorro 8 14 10 14 — 46
Portales 16 12 17 18 — 63
3-pointers — Socorro 1-14 (Armijo 1-9, Bruton 0-2, Garcia 0-1, Major 0-1, Peralta 0-1), Portales 2-9 (Gomez 1-2, K. Richards 1-4, Cook 0-3). Rebounds — Socorro 30 (Major 15), Portales 43 (Hill, K. Richards 10). Assists — Socorro 10 (Armijo 5), Portales 14 (Cook 5). Total fouls — Socorro 16, Portales 19. Fouled out — Monette.