Rams fall into early hole they can’t escape

PNT Staff

LOVINGTON — The Portales High boys’ celebration was quickly put on hold by the Lovington Wildcats on Friday night.
Lovington opened a 17-0 lead late in the first quarter and held the Rams at bay the rest of the way en route to a 61-47 victory that left the teams tied for the District 4-3A lead.
Senior guard Ryan Hargrove knocked down seven 3-pointers en route to 23 points for Lovington (14-9, 4-1 district), which never let Portales get closer than nine points after its early surge.
“We didn’t come ready to play,” PHS boys coach Mark Gallegos said. “We were intimidated (offensively), and we couldn’t get a defensive stop when we needed one.”
Portales (15-8, 4-1), which had its seven-game winning streak snapped, pulled to 27-18 at halftime before the Wildcats opened a 17-point lead early in the fourth quarter.
At that point, the Rams began another comeback, closing to 10 points a couple of times as Lovington went cold from the field and committed several turnovers. But Hargrove’s last 3-pointer, making it 51-38 midway through the period, began to signal the end.
“We came out in the third quarter and went back to the same old thing,” Gallegos said. “Every time we went inside, it seemed like the kids were looking to get their shot blocked.”
Junior Truman Payne added 12 points and senior Jared Swenson 11 for the Wildcats, who avenged a 62-50 loss to Portales earlier in district play.
Junior guard Daniel Aranda led the Rams with 13 points, while senior forward Chris Kirchner finished with 10.
“Daniel Aranda put us on his shoulders and carried us tonight,” Gallegos said.
Both teams have one district game remaining — Lovington at third-place Ruidoso on Tuesday night, and Portales at home against last-place New Mexico Military Institute on Friday night.
If they end up tied for the top spot, Gallegos said the teams will have a playoff to determine the top seed in the district tournament in Roswell on Feb. 28, with the game to be played at NMMI.

District 4-3A
Lovington 61, Portales 47
Portales (15-8, 4-1) —
Cruz Ontiveros 0 0-2 0, Daniel Boan 0 0-0 0, Daniel Aranda 5 3-4 13, Chris Kirchner 3 2-6 10, Bo Gabriel 3 1-4 7, Trevor Ferguson 1 0-0 3, Chris Adkins 1 0-0 3, Chris Carter 0 6-8 6, Tyler Johnson 0 2-2 2, Jack Hale 1 1-2 3. Totals 14 15-28 47.
Lovington (14-9, 4-1) — Chris Hatcher 2 0-0 4, Ryan Hargrove 7 2-2 23, Kenneth Evans 1 2-2 5, Jared Swenson 3 5-6 11, William McBee 1 2-5 4, Tyler Graham 0 0-1 0, Andrew McCraw 1 0-0 2, Truman Payne 6 0-0 12. Totals 21 11-16 61.
Portales 5 13 13 16 — 47
Lovington 17 10 14 20 — 61
3-pointers — Portales (4): Kirchner 2, Adkins, Ferguson. Lovington (8): Hargrove 7, Evans. JV score — Lovington 58, Portales 52.