Lady Rams win despite no treys

Eric Butler

RIO RANCHO — Part of the modus operandi for the Portales girls basketball team is its prowess from 3-point range.
Showing another facet of its game, Portales didn’t hit a single trey in Thursday’s opening-round game of the Mel Otero Invitational but won anyway.
Weathering the early hot shooting of Del Norte, the Lady rams pulled away for a 63-46 victory over the Knights.
Shut out from behind the arc, Portales (3-1) made up for it with solid ballhandling as the Rams only committed eight turnovers in the game.
Turnovers were one reason why 70 percent shooting from the field didn’t translate into a lead for Del Norte (2-3) after one quarter. Despite 3-for-5 long range accuracy from guard Melanie Brionez — who finished five 3s — and good touch from the other Knights, the game was tied at 17.
“They made everything they shot, they were shooting really good,” said Portales senior point Roni Gomez, who finished with a game-high 21 points.
A 6-0 run late in the second quarter by the Lady Rams helped set the tone for the rest of the game. Erika Cook zipped a pass to Megan Kabrick for a bucket, followed by a bucket by Ashleah Richards and a putback from Kassandra Richards for a 29-23 lead.
Another 3-pointer by Brionez ended the first half, but Portales kicked off the third quarter with a 7-2 run to secure some breathing room.
“We just needed to use our heart, we weren’t playing as hard as we could,” Gomez said. “We just weren’t thinking and our defense wasn’t that good, but we pulled it out.”
Early in the fourth period, Del Norte cut the lead to 47-39 on a three-point play by Nikita Shanks. Portales responded with a pair of free throws from Gomez and a fastbreak layup by Morgan Hill.
Later, while up 52-44, the Rams ran off nine straight points over the last few minutes of the fourth quarter.
Kassandra Richards finished with 15 points for Portales while sister Ashleah contributed with 10.
Brionez finished with 15 for Del Norte, which also got 13 from Shanks.
“I thought they played good defense on us, put pressure on the outside and I thought we did a pretty good job cutting back to the basket,” said Portales coach Brenda Gomez, whose squad attempted only six 3-pointers in the contest. “I think we are a good 3-point shooting team, we just didn’t get the looks.”
Portales will meet the winner of the Dallas Kimball/Los Lunas game in the semifinal round.
Kimball won the Rio Rancho tourney a year ago and advanced to the Class 4A quarterfinals in Texas.