By Kevin Wilson
The Moriarty Pintos spent most of the first half scoring with Blanks — Kyle, that is — while it felt like the Portales Rams were firing blanks.
“It’s like there’s a lid on the basket for us,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said, after the Rams managed only 13 first-half points and spent the rest of their home opener unsuccessfully trying to play catchup to the Class 4A Pintos in Saturday’s 58-41 loss.
Portales (2-5) lost its fifth-straight, and will head to Las Vegas on Friday for the Stu Clark Tournament. Moriarty (4-4), meanwhile, earned a split during its weekend trip — the Pintos lost to Clovis 93-66 Friday night.
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound Blanks had a game-high 23 points, and overwhelmed pretty much anybody the Rams could throw at him. On double teams, the Pintos were able to get outside looks for Jeff Anaya (16 points) and their other perimeter players.
“We have enough shooters on the outside that we can make (defenders) honest,” Pintos coach Randy Lykens said. “If I can keep Kyle in the game and out of foul trouble and our shooting is on, we’re not a bad ballclub.”
Blanks had 16 of his 23 in the first half, helping the Pintos open a 27-13 lead at the half. Moriarty held a double-figure lead for the final 17:23 of the contest, leading by as much as 18 points.
Chris Carter had 15 points to lead the Rams, but only two other Portales players — Seth Clabaugh had seven and Chris Kirchner six — had more than four points on the night.
“We’re just having growing pains” Gallegos said. “I’m disappointed in how we’ve played so far, but I expect us to be there when it’s all said and done.”
Portales was playing shorthanded, missing seniors Russell Knudson and Nathan Brown from the lineup. Knudson will likely miss the Stu Clark Tournament with a sprained knee, while Brown will be back after serving a two-game suspension for violating team rules.
“We’re thin without Russell, we’re thin without Nathan,” Gallegos said, “but none of the young guys backed off.”
In the junior varsity game, the Rams took a 50-47 victory after rallying to score the game’s final six points. Chris Adkins had a steal with 9.6 seconds left and hit a pair of free throws to put Portales up for good.