Rams down Tucumcari in final non-district tilt

By Dave Wagner

If the Portales Rams were sluggish Tuesday night, it hardly showed to Tucumcari boys coach John Span.
Portales jumped on the Rattlers for the game’s first nine points and never relinquished the lead in posting a 61-41 victory at the PHS gym.
Senior Chris Kirchner posted a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and seniors Bo Gabriel and Jack Hale added 10 points each as Portales (11-7) tuned up for its final six regular-season games, all in District 4-3A. Hale also had a strong game on the boards with eight rebounds, while senior Chris Carter dished out a team-high five assists.
Senior guard Matthew Braziel led all scorers with four 3-pointers and 16 points for the Class 2A Rattlers (8-9), who pulled to within a point early in the second quarter but faded in the second half.
“They’re a good ballclub; they move the ball well,” Span said of the Rams. “The interior passing they did toward the end of the game shows what kind of program they have.”
But Portales coach Mark Gallegos said his team will have to play better when it faces the likes of top-ranked Lovington and Ruidoso in district play down the road.
He said he didn’t see that much good in the game from his team, except in spurts.
“We totally lacked focus, and I take full responsibility for that,” Gallegos said. “We didn’t attack their halfcourt trap very well.
“There’s no excuse. A lot of people might say we’re looking ahead (to district), but I don’t buy it.”
Tucumcari dug itself an immediate hole, turning the ball over on its first six possessions before calling a timeout with just over two minutes gone. Once they righted themselves, though, the Rattlers charged back into contention.
Braziel hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 10 points to help Tucumcari close to 17-12 at the quarter, and sophomore Josh Villegas’ basket made it a one-point game early in the second stanza.
Portales, though, went on a 9-0 run at that point, including 5-of-6 from the free throw line. The Rams led 28-22 at halftime and didn’t let Tucumcari get any closer, firing at a 56 percent clip (15-of-27) in the second half.
Tucumcari shot 50 percent in the first half, but got off only 16 attempts and committed 19 of its 27 turnovers in that time. The Rattlers went just 7-of-26 in the final two segments.
“Our kids didn’t quit, regardless of the situation,” Span said. “I felt like we had some opportunities in the first half.
“We tried to keep them off-balance a little (with the trapping defense), but they did a good job of adjusting to it.”
Meantime, the Rams are off for a week now before hosting Ruidoso in the district opener on Tuesday.
“We’ve just got to understand that Ruidoso and Lovington are two of the better teams we’ve played all year,” he said. “The teams that are champions don’t allow themselves to have letdowns.
“Our goal is to be district champions, but we won’t do it playing like that.”

Portales 61, Tucumcari 41
Tucumcari (8-9) —
Matthew Braziel 6 0-0 16, Nemi Salvador 2 0-0 5, Gabriel Anaya 0 0-0 0, Eric Holt 1 1-2 3, Jeremy Lopez 2 0-0 5, Nathan McDonald 1 0-0 2, Chris McCasland 1 1-3 3, Alex Page 0 0-0 0, Robert Munoz 2 2-2 6, Josh Villegas 0 1-2 1. Totals 15-42 5-9 41.
Portales (11-7) — Cruz Ontiveros 0-0 0-2 0, Daniel Boan 0-3 0-0 0, Daniel Aranda 3-6 0-0 6, Josh Gonzales 0-0 0-0 0, Jonathan Garcia 0-0 0-0 0, Chris Kirchner 5-9 0-0 12, Bo Gabriel 4-7 2-4 10, Trevor Ferguson 2-5 2-2 6, Chris Adkins 1-4 1-2 3, Chris Carter 2-6 2-2 6, Tyler Johnson 4-4 0-0 8, Jack Hale 4-11 2-2 10, Chris Smith 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-56 9-14 61.
Tucumcari 12 10 14 5 — 41
Portales 17 11 21 12 — 61
3-pointers —
Tucumcari 6-19 (Braziel 4, Lopez, Salvador), Portales 2-7 (Carter 2-3, Adkins 0-1, Aranda 0-1, Carter 0-2). Rebounds — Tucumcari 26, Portales 31 (Kirchner 10). Assists — Tucumcari 9, Portales 15 (Carter 5). Total fouls — Tucumcari 14, Portales 10. Fouled out — none. JV score — Portales 54, Tucumcari 28.