By Mickey Winfield
The Portales Rams used a spirited second quarter to take control of Friday night’s game against Tucumcari en route to their first win of the young basketball season.
Chance Sherburne and Hunter Rackler scored nine points each as the short-handed Rams beat Tucumcari 40-26 at Ram Athletic Center.
Portales (1-1) was without several players due to injuries, and coach Mark Gallegos was suspended for one game after being ejected from Tuesday’s season-opener in Roswell.
“It’s hard because I want to be out there,” Gallegos said of the suspension. “It’s nobody’s fault but my own. I’ve got to learn to control my temper.”
Confined to the stands, Gallegos said he was disappointed in the Rams’ performance Friday night.
“Our effort tonight would have gotten us beat by Lovington by 15 or 20 points,” Gallegos said.
A.J. Trujillo led the charge for the Rattlers (1-3) with nine points while Curtis Simpson finished with seven.
After the visiting Rattlers led by one point heading into the second quarter, the Rams took control of the contest, outscoring Tucumcari 21-5 in the second period.
Senior Cruz Ontiveros led the way with seven points in the period as the Rams went into halftime up 27-12.
“(The second quarter) was the ball game right there,” Tucumcari coach John Span said. “I told the kids in the second half we had to match their intensity.”
And the Rattlers appeared to do so, outscoring Portales 14-13 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to erase the Portales second quarter.
The Rams not only earned their first win of the season Friday night, but according to Gallegos, they also learned what they need to do to get better, and compete for the postseason.
“We’re going to get better as a basketball team, we just are,” Gallegos said. “Where we’re at right now is no indication of where we’re going to be come February. We’re going to be right there, I really believe we are, but there’s a lot of hard work that’s going to have to happen between now and then.”
The Rams’ four-game home stand continues Tuesday night against Robertson, followed by visits from Carlsbad and Aztec.