By Tony Parra: PNT staff writer
With their destiny in their hands, the Portales boys took care of business on Tuesday by defeating the Lovington Wildcats, 52-34.
The Rams’ win improved their district record to 3-2 and dropped the Wildcats to 3-2. The victory means, if the Portales Rams win on Friday night at home against the Ruidoso Warriors they will be in a first place tie in the district. Ruidoso defeated NMMI on Tuesday 55-44. Lovington plays NMMI on Friday, if the Wildcats and Rams win, it would mean a three-way tie for first place.
The Rams improved to 12-11 overall and Lovington fell to 17-10 overall.
“We couldn’t look past Lovington,” Rams’ coach Mark Gallegos said. “I was pleased with our kids’ efforts tonight. We talked about closing out and not giving them any open looks at halftime. We had a better effort of closing out in the second half.”
Lovington’s Chris Hatcher hit a three-point shot a couple of feet behind the three-point arc with time expiring in the first half to cut the Portales lead to 18-17.
“We missed some easy shots in the first half,” Gallegos said. “We got great looks, we just couldn’t put the ball in the basket.”
The Rams took over in the second half and outscored Lovington, 34-17. Forward Daniel Boan scored 10 points in the second half for the Rams.
“The talk coach gave us at halftime made the difference,” Boan said. “We came out and shot some lay-ups to warm up. In Lovington, we came out flat in the second half. It’s a game we should have won.”
The Rams lost at Lovington, 49-48 earlier in the district season.
During Tuesday’s game, Reggie Hargrove hit a three-pointer early in the third quarter to give the Wildcats a 20-18 lead. But it was just a glimmer in an otherwise dark night for Hargrove who went 2-for-17 from the field and turned the ball over six times.
After the Hargrove three-pointer, the Rams went on an 18-4 run to end the third quarter. Boan and Daniel Aranda were the catalysts for the Rams’ offense in the third quarter as they combined to score 12 of the 18 Portales points.
“We kept moving the ball in the second half,” Boan said. “Coach said, ‘I don’t care if you get swatted, keep going at them.’”
Boan led the Rams with 18 points and five rebounds. Jerrod Long, Chris Adkins and Jonathan Garcia each chipped in six points for Portales.
Truman Payne led the Wildcats with 16 points and six rebounds. Hargrove and Hatcher each chipped in with eight points.
“We did a good job of holding Truman,” Aranda, who scored 10 points, said. “In the second half we had some easy buckets to keep us rolling.”