By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
Clarence Cheadle scored a game-high 18 points, and the visiting Roswell Coyotes closed out their regular season on a high note with a 73-54 victory over the Portales Rams.
Cheadle led four Coyotes in double figures and hit an early 3-pointer to give Roswell (15-5) a lead they never relinquished in what was the final non-district game for both teams.
“The good thing about tonight is we’re 0-0 until Tuesday,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said, referring to the Rams’ district record until Tuesday’s road game against Lovington.
In dealing Portales (9-9) its second-straight loss, the Coyotes led by as much as 23 midway through the second half and held off the Rams in a game that held a frenetic pace throughout.
Roswell coach Britt Cooper was surprised with the final margin, especially considering Portales’ victory last week at Carlsbad.
“I know they’re better than Carlsbad, and I think they’re better than Lovington,” Cooper said. “They hung in there. They could have folded up.”
Still, Cooper was more than happy to get the win after two-straight losses before district play.
“We need it because we’ve been playing three games a week the last three weeks. We played with a lot of energy tonight.”
Roswell took control early, with Cheadle’s 3-pointer starting an 8-1 run. Two more treys in the quarter helped Roswell take an 18-11 lead after the first quarter, and the Coyotes overcame a 35-turnover night by shooting 52.5 percent from the field (21-of-40) and 78 percent from the free-throw line (21-of-27).
Lucas Gallegos added 14 for the Coyotes and Steven Brandt scored 11. Stefon Duran added 10 points and hit a 3-pointer late in the first quarter for an 18-9 Coyote lead.
“We did something unusual and started in a 2-3 zone,” Gallegos said of Roswell’s early 3-pointers. “We didn’t close out on ball reversal quickly enough.”
Portales, meanwhile, shot 32 percent (15-of-47) and 56 percent from the line (14-of-25), and couldn’t recover from 28 turnovers.
“They’re going to win at that tempo,” Gallegos said of the Coyotes. “We can’t play at that tempo. We can for stretches.”
Daniel Aranda scored 13 to lead three Rams in double figures. Jerrod Long and Chris Adkins each scored 10, while Daniel Boan added seven for the Rams.
Gallegos credited his players for not giving up in the second half and credited the home fans for creating a playoff atmosphere for the Coyotes all night. He hopes for the same situation when district play comes. The Rams are at home next Friday against New Mexico Military Institute, but open district Tuesday at Lovington.
“It’s hard to play Lovington,” Gallegos said. “They’re going to use their athleticism.”
In the junior varsity game, Roswell defeated Portales 51-50.