By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
PORTALES — Megan Kabrick was all set to move away from home and play college volleyball at Angelo State when she suddenly had a change of heart.
A four-year standout in volleyball and basketball at Portales High School, Kabrick signed to play at Angelo in November of 2005. She thought she would be happy with that.
“Angelo was the only school that gave me an offer,” said Kabrick, whose father Ed is the head trainer at Eastern New Mexico University. “I went for a visit (in June) and I liked the place.”
But when she returned for the start of school in August, she was convinced she made a wrong decision.
“I practiced with them for two weeks,” Kabrick said. “Their coach (Ruth Lawanson) was awesome, but I didn’t feel like I belonged.
“It just wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and I knew it.”
She sought and received an athletic release from Lawanson — for anything except volleyball. Eventually, she went to first-year ENMU women’s basketball coach Linden Weese to seek a tryout.
“I decided, ‘I don’t want to just go to school,’” said Kabrick, a health and P.E. major.
She made the team, and has started all eight games for the Zias (6-2), who play at New Mexico Highlands on Monday.
Weese, who met Kabrick at a summer camp conducted by Portales High girls coach Brenda Gomez, said he’s happy to have her.
“I really gave her a hard time (at the camp),” he said. “I’d say, ‘Volleyball players over here, basketball players over there.’
“Megan’s a pleasure to be around; she’s always positive. I think she’s a lot better athlete than she gives herself credit for. If she has to run a little faster, she does; if she has to jump a little higher, she does.”
She came to Portales with her family while in eighth grade when her father, then the athletic trainer at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Okla., took a similar position at ENMU.
Portales won three Class 3A state basketball championships and earned a runnerup finish in her four seasons, although she missed most of her sophomore year with a torn ACL.
So far, the 5-foot-11 guard-forward is averaging five points and nearly four rebounds in 19 minutes a game. She’s shooting 47 percent from the floor, including 6-of-11 from 3-point range.
“This year’s been a learning process,” she said of the college game. “It’s so fast-paced — go, go, go.”
Weese said Kabrick is making the adjustment.
“She’s not really a ‘go-to’ player right now,” he said. “And I’m sure she’s had to defend people who are probably a whole lot better than what she faced in high school.”
Kabrick said the Zias have their sights set on the Lone Star Conference postseason tournament.
“We’re making the tournament this year,” she said. “I think this team is amazing. The coach is amazing, and he brings out the best in all of us.”
ENMU (4-5) at New Mexico Highlands (1-8), 8 p.m. Monday at Las Vegas, N.M.
Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com.
Notes: The Greyhounds won the first meeting 81-71 in Portales on Nov. 21. … Highlands’ only win came at the expense of Chadron State on Dec. 7. The Cowboys lost at home on Friday to Colorado School of Mines 70-60. … Only 6-4 freshman F Michael Schilleci averages in double figures for Highlands (11.0 ppg), but he’s played only five games. He did not play at Greyhound Arena. … Four Cowboys scored in double figures in the loss at ENMU, led by junior G Leo Ural with 19.
ENMU (6-2) at New Mexico Highlands (1-7), 6 p.m. Monday at Las Vegas, N.M.
Radio: KSEL-AM 1450.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com.
Notes: The Zias won the first meeting 74-50 in Portales. Highlands lost to Mines 58-45 on Friday and played at West Texas A&M on Saturday night. … Junior Delischa Utsey scored 12 points in the earlier game with ENMU, and leads the Cowgirls for the season with averages of 12.6 ppg and 4.9 rpg. … Senior PG Conseulo “Chelo” McElrath, a Clovis High grad, is averaging 37 minutes per game this season. She is scoring 3.6 points a game and has a team-high 19 assists.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner