By Eric Butler
FARWELL — With a full complement of players — primarily its varsity squad for next year — Portales took advantage of a depleted Muleshoe team to move into the finals of the West Texas/New Mexico Phenoms Summer League.
The Rams won 52-42 in the second of two semifinal games at Farwell High School and will face Clovis in the finals at 5 p.m. (MDT) today.
Portales pulled away from its tiring rivals down the stretch of the final game of the day. The Mules had only seven players on the bench and had to win a semifinal game (48-36 over Texico) an hour before the contest with the Rams.
Trailing 41-38, Muleshoe called a timeout with six minutes left in the semifinal matchup. Apparent weariness in the Mules’ huddle soon began paying dividends to the Rams on the court.
Kassandra Richards canned a 3-pointer with 5:50 left to kick off a 9-0
Portales run. Muleshoe, led by Lindsey Wood’s 13, wouldn’t score again until Kelsey Friscup hit a pair of free throws with 1:02 remaining.
“We just had the seven girls and, I don’t want to make any excuses, but they were tired,” Muleshoe coach Bob Graves said. “I was so pleased with their effort though — Portales is good, very good.”
Megan Kabrick led the Rams with 12 points, while Richards added 11. Portales will try to avenge two earlier defeats in Phenoms play to the young Clovis squad.
“Clovis is a really good team and I think they’re a real good test for our kids, to see what they can do,” Portales coach Brenda Gomez said. “This summer, we’ve played them five times — and lost to them every time but one.
So, we’re looking forward to trying to beat them again.”
Fatigue also played a role in the other semifinal.
The Wildcats, made predominantly of girls about to enter their sophomore year of high school, are the youngest squad in the 12-team league. But
Clovis made quick work of Grady, clobbering the Bronchos 76-29.
Earlier in Phenoms league play, Grady gave Clovis a much tougher time — losing only by six points.
On Monday, though, the ‘Cats could have named the score – surging to the
easy victory behind 20 points from Tori Quintana, 17 from Aimee Hilburn, 13 from Brittany Blackmon and 11 by Roxanne Luera.
“We just gave our 100 percent game. Last time, we were kind of lazy,” Blackmon said.
“We had better teamwork this time and we haven’t played for like a week,” Quintana said. “So I guess we were hungry for it.”
Grady, which won a 42-40 overtime battle with Sudan to get into the semifinals earlier in the day, had the opposite problem. The Bronchos, who got 15 points from Jennifer Blackburn against Clovis, had just come off participating in a camp at Eastern New Mexico University.
“We didn’t have team camp right before that,” said Grady coach Alicia Rush, referring to the earlier loss to Clovis. “We just got done Saturday — we had played 16 games since Wednesday, so they were a little tired.”