Rams host Ruidoso in critical game

Jesse Wolfersberger

On Jan. 31 the Portales Rams lost at Lovington 49-48. On Tuesday, the Rams toppled the Wildcats 55-36 at home. Portales coach Mark Gallegos said, sure, home court advantage played a part in the turnaround, but the real reason may have to do more with the players’ birth certificates.
“That’s the way it is coaching 17 and 18 year old kids,” Gallegos said. “Week to week you never know what’s going to happen.”
The Rams (12-11, 3-2 District 4-3A) will be looking for another reversal of fortune when they host the Ruidoso Warriors (17-8, 4-1) at 6 p.m., today, at Portales High School. On Feb. 7, the Warriors beat Portales 55-36 at Ruidoso.
If the Rams pull out a win it would force, at minimum, a two way tie for first place. In the case of a two way tie, the district champion would be decided by point differential. Coming into the game, the Rams have an advantage in that category plus 40 to plus 32.
In the other District 4-3A game today, Lovington (17-10, 3-2) hosts the New Mexico Military Institute (0-20, 0-5). If the Wildcats can keep NMMI winless, it would force a three way tie atop the standings and a spike in sales of headache medicine. If a three way tie occurs two teams would have a coin flip, the loser would have the second seed in the district tournament, the winner would play the non-coin flip team on Monday at a neutral site, the winner of that would be the district champion, the loser would drop all the way down to the third seed.
“It’s real odd,” Gallegos said. “But we aren’t looking past (tonight). I told our kids, “Focus on (tonight), then we’ll worry about all the other stuff.”
Portales senior guard Jerrod Long said he likes the Rams’ chances in the rematch with Ruidoso because they get to play at home.
“We can’t lose at home, that’s one thing we’ve strived for this season,” Long said. “The first time we played them, we played horrible. We’re going to come out and give our home town a good show and let them know that we’re going to state and we’re going to win our district.”
Today’s game is the final regular season game for both teams, so Gallegos said he does not expect either team to try anything dramatically different.
“This time of the year, it’s not so much about putting on anything new or anything like that,” Gallegos said. “It’s about executing what you do. There are no secrets. We know what Ruidoso is going to do, they know what we’re going to do.
It’s just who comes out and executes the gameplan.”
Long, who transferred from Floyd prior to this season, said he can’t wait to get to the tie breakers.
“I really want to win,” Long said. “I’m sure everyone else on the team wants to too, but I really want to win district just I could see what it feels like to win district at a bigger school.”