By Kevin Wilson
MULESHOE — Statistics can be deceiving. Just ask the Portales Rams.
Statistic No. 1: With a 60-51 win at Muleshoe Friday night, the Portales Rams improved to 3-1 when playing in Texas this season. What that statistic doesn’t say is the Rams played disciplined basketball and had balanced scoring in each of those three wins.
Statistic No. 2: Friday also marked the first time the Rams allowed 50 points to an opponent, and won.
“We’re good at busting statistics like that,” Muleshoe coach Ralph Mason said.
So, too, were the Rams, at least on Friday. Portales (5-8) had just two double figure scorers — Chris Carter with 15 and Bo Gabriel with 11 — but got nine from Seth Clabaugh and at least five from four other scorers.
“We were patient offensively.” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said. “We reversed the ball a few times and got it in the right spots, and that’s what we have to do.
“We’re going to get some good looks, but it will sometimes come on the second or third ball reversal.”
The patience paid off, as Portales led for most of the contest. Muleshoe (6-12) led just three times — never by more than two, and never for more than two possessions.
Portales sealed the game with a 10-3 run in the fourth. Carter had a pair of scores during the run, the second a layup off an inbounds play to give the Rams their biggest lead at 53-44. Muleshoe never got closer than six the rest of the way.
Gallegos said that Gabriel had one of his more balanced games of the season, both on offense and defense.
“It’s kind of hard to play zone (defense) if they’re shooting lights out, so you’ve got to play man and rely on your teammates,” said Gabriel, who had a pair of layups coming off of steals.
Although the Mules (6-12) still had seven of their 17 field goals come from the 3-point arc, the Rams were able to make Muleshoe work for its long-distance shooting. The Rams knew what to expect coming into the game, and the Mules knew what to expect from Portales.
“Year in and year out, Portales is sound defensively,” Mason said. “You have to be really patient, you have to keep your focus.
“We did a good job of that,” Mason continued, “but we gave up a couple of layups on the baseline. We gave them a couple of chip shots by letting them get offensive rebounds. A game like this, it’s just the little things that hurt you.”
The Mules had three scorers in double figures, with 12 each from Sterling Via and Landon Sheets and 11 from Tatom Heathington.
Portales returns to action Tuesday at Clovis.
Notes: Portales had previously been 0-8 in games when the opposition scored 50 points … The Rams’ previous two wins in Texas both came at the Shallowater Shootout … The Mules-Rams game was part of a doubleheader at Muleshoe High School, with the Lady Mules playing Lubbock Cooper. The Portales JV took a 34-30 win over Muleshoe for its sixth-straight victory.