Portales’ Morgan Hill drives to the basket past a Lovington defender during the second half of Friday’s District 4-3A girls championship game in Portales. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Tony Parra: Freedom Newspapers
PORTALES — It wouldn’t be a district championship game without coach Brenda Gomez marching back and forth on the sidelines.
The Portales Lady Rams defeated Lovington 68-33 in the District 4-3A tournament title game Friday at PHS behind double-digit scoring from Briana Hernandez, Ashleah Richards and Megan Kabrick.
Gomez glanced up at the wall on east part of the gym to count the championships the Lady Rams have won under her leadership. Friday’s championship makes it 18 district titles for Gomez.
“Compared to last year, this team does a lot better job of handling the ball,” Gomez said. “They’re (this year’s players) more experienced.”
The Lady Rams (20-6) will host a game at 7 p.m. on Friday in the state tournament.Gomez feels the Lady Rams should be seeded first in the 16-team state tournament.
Richards and Kabrick have won three district titles in their four years of varsity.
“It feels like the game comes so easy to us. Coach (Gomez) does a really good job of preparing us,” Richards said.
The Lady Rams stormed out to a 21-4 lead after the first quarter when their pressure defense forced 12 Lovington turnovers.
“I liked the way we were getting after them,” Kabrick said. “We had an awesome practice yesterday. It helps us to practice against the boys because they’re so fast and we get the extra step we need.”
Lovington battled back in the second quarter and outscored Portales 12-9.
“I don’t know why it came out that way,” Lovington coach Art Karger said. “We’ve started a lot of games that way. You can’t foul a good-shooting ball club. They’ll shoot your eyes out.”
Karger said he was proud of the way his girls fought back.
He too thinks Portales should be the top seed in the state tournament.
“If there is another team better than Portales, I’d like to see them,” Karger said. “Coach (Gomez) knows what’s going on. You can see that by the championships on the wall.”
Portales forced the momentum back in its favor in the second half by outscoring the Lady Wildcats 19-8 in the third quarter and the Lady Rams never looked back.
Portales has defeated Lovington by an average of 41.3 points in the three games.
Hernandez and Kabrick led the Rams with 14 points each and Richards chipped in with 11 points. The Rams made 26 free throws to the Lady Wildcats 10.
“Once I got hot I kept making them,” Hernandez said after nailing four 3-pointers. “It all depends on the tempo of the game. They (Portales guards) dribbled and penetrated and I relocated myself.”
Jenna Domzalski led Lovington (7-16) with six points and Crystal Marquez followed with five points.