The Portales Rams won their second game against the Ruidoso Warriors in four days and now have the top seed in the District 4-3A tournament.
The Rams held Ruidoso scoreless in the third quarter and made plays in the final minute to beat the Warriors 40-37 on Monday at the New Mexico Military Institute.
Jerrod Long lead a balanced attack with 9 points for the Rams (14-11). Chris Adkins added 8 and Daniel Boan had 7.
Ted LaCoe scored 16 despite foul trouble for Ruidoso (17-10).
After leading by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter, Portales found itself tied 37-37 with Ruidoso in the game’s final minute.
“I think we got a little complacent when we got up 10,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said.
Junior Chance Sherburne hit a free throw to put the Rams ahead by one, then Ruidoso turned the ball over and fouled Senior Jerrod Long who hit both free throws.
Leading by two at halftime, Portales switched to a box-and-one defense and it paid immediate dividends — the Rams held the Warriors scoreless.
“I think that was the difference in the game,” Gallegos said.
A week ago, the Rams needed to beat Lovington and Ruidoso just to force a tie for first place. Both teams had better records than Portales, both teams had beaten the Rams earlier this season.
After winning both games last week and Monday’s tiebreaker, the Rams will host the district tournament championship, not have to play today against NMMI, and have a guaranteed spot in the 16-team state tournament.
“We’re really excited,” Gallegos said. “It’s a big relief that we don’t have to play (today).”
The district tournament finals will be at 7 p.m. Saturday at Portales High School. If the Rams win, they will host a regional game in the state tournament.
“I think we could be the number two or three seed in the state tournament if we win on Saturday,” Gallegos said.
To meet the Rams in the finals, the Warriors have to win today against NMMI then Thursday against Ruidoso.
“They’ve got a hard road,” Gallegos said. “If they go to Lovington, and I think they will, that’s going to be a dog fight.”