Ask Portales guard Alexis Orcutt her height, and she’ll tell you 5-foot-7. And 3/4.
“I’m proud of that 3/4,” the senior guard said with a laugh.
Likewise, she and her Portales teammates have pride in the basketball program. The results prove it. Six state championships. Eight Class 3A title game appearances in the last nine seasons. And a 20-year run which has seen 18 district championships, including the last five in a row.
Now, last year’s Class 3A runnersup hope to move up one more place. Seven days removed from the state volleyball tournament, Portales opens the season with a 1 p.m. (MST) game today at Friona.
Third-year coach Clay Stout said the Squaws should be in midseason form and should prove a good test for the Lady Rams.
“They’re physical,” Stout said of Friona. “They run lots of different defenses, which will really be good for us. They run four or five different presses.”
After that, Portales is off until Dec. 5, when it hosts Hobbs.
“I wanted them to have a break,” Stout said. “They’ve been in volleyball for five months. It seems like it hurts you a little now, but the rest really helps you later in the season.”
And Friona was scheduled so Portales doesn’t start the season weeks behind the curve, and to be a reference point during practice.
“You play a team early,” said Stout, 38-21 at Portales, “you can go back to the drawing board.”
The Lady Rams’ depth in the frontcourt is evident, with 6-foot post Jenna Wagner in her senior season, 5-foot-9 forward Gabby Garcia in her junior year and 6-foot post Macy Mitchell starting her sophomore campaign.
It’s the backcourt that has holes to fill, with Tara Johnson and Dallas Russell among those who graduated from last season’s squad.
“You’re not going to replace Tara and Dallas,” Stout said. “They were two starters who were experienced and tough. But with what we’ve got as a team, we feel like we can compensate.”
There probably won’t be a primary point guard, but the tandem of Orcutt and 5-foot-5 senior guard Ashley Hernandez should get some help when 5-foot-3 sophomore Makayla Poynor returns from a knee injury. Also, Stout is trying to put his posts in positions during practice where they have to handle the ball, and he feels his posts are capable of handling the ball on par with most guards.
“There’s a lot of pressure,” Orcutt said. “Tara was a big part of the team last year. Everybody’s going to have to step up and handle the ball.”
Portales will face plenty of tests, with the Mel Otero Invitational in Rio Rancho the second weekend of December and the Plateau Holiday Classic in Clovis at the end of December. The schedule doesn’t feature a Class 3A team until the Jan. 26 District 4-3A opener at Ruidoso.
But Stout feels confident.
“I have really high expectations for these girls,” Stout said. “They’ve showed a maturity just in this first week that I’m very impressed with.”
LADY RAMS SCHEDULE
21 — at Friona, 1 p.m.
5 — Hobbs, 7 p.m.; 10-12 — at Mel Otero Invitational, Rio Rancho, TBA; 18 — at Muleshoe, 5:30 p.m.; 28-30 — at Plateau Holiday Classic, Clovis, TBA.
8-9 — New Mexico/Arizona Challenge at Clovis, TBA; 14 — at Roswell High, 7 p.m.; 16 — Roswell Goddard, 7 p.m.; 19 — Clovis, 7 p.m.; 22 — at Roswell Goddard, 7 p.m.; 26 — at Ruidoso, 5:30 p.m.-x; 29 — at Hobbs, 7 p.m.; 30 — at Dexter, 2:30 p.m.-x.
2 — Roswell High, 7 p.m.; 5 — Lovington, 7 p.m.-x; 9 — Dexter, 7 p.m.-x; 13 — at Lovington, 7 p.m.-x; 16 — Texico, 5:30 p.m.; 20 — Ruidoso, 7 p.m.-x.
All times MST. x-Denotes District 4-3A games.