By Greg Price: Freedom Newspapers
Portales coach Brenda Gomez said in five of the Lady Rams’ six losses this season, they let a lead slip away.
Portales refused to let it happen again Friday, surviving sloppy ballhandling and poor shooting to edge Gallup 31-29 in a consolation semifinal game in the Plateau Holiday Classic at Rock Staubus Gym.
Senior Kaycee Quick scored 21 points for the Lady Rams, including a putback with 1:31 remaining in the fourth. Quick also drew a foul and completed the three-point play for a 31-26 lead in a match of defending state champions — Portales in 3A and Gallup in 5A.
“I was just in the right spot at the right time,” Quick said. “We could’ve done better with (the lead), but we still held on to it and we have lots of improvement (ahead).”
Gallup junior Telisha Joe, who finished with nine points, converted a fadeaway jumper into a three-point play to pull the Lady Bengals within 31-29 with a little under a minute left.
“We knew that she was the key,” Gomez said of Joe. “If she had the ball we knew she was going to get it to someone who could score, or she’d score.”
Gallup senior Cleo Crank gave the Lady Bengals (10-3) a shot at the victory, deflecting a pass off Quick and out of bounds with 24 seconds left.
On the ensuing possession Ram junior Bethany Self forced a jump ball with no time remaining.
Gomez said the Lady Rams’ defensive game plan revolved around how dangerous Joe can be shooting and passing.
Besides her late defensive play, Self also contributed seven points.
Gallup coach John Lomansey said his team’s poor shooting led to the loss.
“I mean, we blew about five layups, and had some missed free throws,” Lomansey said. “If we shoot the ball anywhere we can, we win the game by as much as 15.”
The Lady Rams (4-6) were up by as much as nine twice in the first half — once after senior Amanda Terry stepped through a double-team and banked in a jumper for a 14-5 Rams lead with 6:59 left in first quarter.
Quick then scored Portales’ next five points between a layup by Gallup senior Ashley McCurtain and a 3-pointer by junior Erica Sowers.
Plateau Holiday Classic
Gadsden 48, Dexter 29
Portales 31, Gallup 29
La Cueva 33, Eldorado 30
Clovis 55, Alamogordo 43
Dexter vs. Gallup, noon (gym 2)
Gadsden vs. Portales, 9:30 a.m.
Eldorado vs. Alamogordo, 2:30 p.m.
La Cueva vs. Clovis, 6 p.m.