Technicals help lift Rams past Wildcats

By Dave Wagner

The Portales High boys basketball team got off to the kind of start it needed in its District 4-3A schedule, winning twice at home.
Now, after downing rival Lovington 62-50 on Friday night at the PHS gym, the Rams will try to carry it over to the road, where they play three of their final four contests.
Senior guard Chris Carter scored 18 points, including 11-for-11 from the free throw line, and senior forward Chris Kirchner added 15 points as the Rams (13-7, 2-0 district) pulled away in the second half to beat the Wildcats (11-9, 1-1).
With the win, its ninth in the last 11 games, Portales assured itself a winning record for the season.
“These kids are really starting to believe in what we’re trying to do,” PHS boys coach Mark Gallegos said. “We had a really good week of practice, and we committed ourselves to working hard and getting better.”
The teams were neck-and-neck until a Carter’s five-point play — a three-point play and two free throws after a technical on Lovington’s Ryan Hargrove — opened a six-point cushion midway through the third quarter.
Another technical on Lovington’s William McBee and two 3-pointers by Kirchner — one late in the third period and the other early in the fourth — helped the Rams build an 11-point lead.
“We knew we couldn’t play their game,” said Carter, who also had a team-high five assists. “We had to slow it down and make free throws.
“The technicals were big momentum-changers. We started playing better defense and kind of put the game away.”
The Wildcats got back to within five points with 4 1/2 minutes to go, but Portales spread the court and salted the game away with more free throws.
“We needed to have that cushion,” Gallegos said. “We struggled a little bit in the second quarter, but we did a good job of settling down. They’re a good team, but I told my kids I was proud how we kept our composure.”
The Rams went 0-for-8 from 3-point range in the first half and trailed 21-20 at the break, but hit all three of their long-distance shots after halftime — two for Kirchner and one for Carter.
“We made some mistakes in the first half,” Carter said. “We knew we had to run offense and get them out of their game. (But) defense started everything for us, and it’s been that way all year.”
The Rams shot 51 percent (19-of-37) for the game while holding the Wildcats to just 37 percent (16-of-43), including 4-of-14 from 3-point range.
“We never really got into our rhythm,” Lovington coach Steve Bridgforth said. “Of course, part of that is due to Portales — they took us out of our rhythm.
“But we didn’t shoot the ball well tonight. We had some wide-open looks that didn’t fall for us.”
Hargrove notched four 3-pointers and 16 points for Lovington, but had just five points in the first three periods. Senior Jared Swenson added 14 points, while McBee finished with 11.

Rams Summary
District 4-3A
Portales 62, Lovington 50
Lovington (11-9, 1-1) — Chris Hatcher 0 0-0 0, Angel Gonzales 0 0-0 0, Ryan Hargrove 5 2-2 16, Kenneth Evans 0 4-5 4, Justin Black 0 0-0 0, Jared Swenson 4 6-7 14, William McBee 5 1-1 11, Tyler Graham 0 0-0 0, Andrew McCraw 1 0-0 2, Truman Payne 1 1-1 3. Totals 16-47 14-16 50.
Portales (13-7, 2-0) — Cruz Ontiveros 0-0 1-2 1, Daniel Boan 0-0 0-0 0, Daniel Aranda 2-5 2-4 6, Josh Gonzales 0-0 0-0 0, Jonathan Garcia 0-0 0-0 0, Chris Kirchner 5-9 3-6 15, Bo Gabriel 2-3 2-3 6, Trevor Ferguson 0-1 0-0 0, Chris Adkins 3-5 0-0 6, Chris Carter 3-6 11-11 18, Tyler Johnson 2-4 2-2 6, Jack Hale 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 19-37 21-28 62.
Lovington 11 10 12 17 — 50
Portales 11 9 18 24 — 62
3-pointers — Lovington 4-14 (Hargrove 4), Portales 3-11 (Kirchner 2-4, Carter 1-3, Adkins 0-1, Ferguson 0-1, Aranda 0-2). Rebounds — Lovington 22, Portales 22 (Kirchner 7). Assists — Lovington 10, Portales 12 (Carter 5). Total fouls — Lovington 18, Portales 13. Fouled out — none. Technicals — Hargrove, McBee. JV score — Portales 49, Lovington 43.