By Mickey Winfield Freedom newspapers
Nobody said it was going to be easy.
Tuesday night, the Portales Rams began defense of their District 4-3A championship with a hard fought 49-43 victory over the New Mexico Military Institute Colts at Portales High School.
The Colts finished last season in last place in District 4-3A, but Portales head coach Mark Gallegos expected a battle.
“I give them a lot of credit,” Gallegos said. “They’re very athletic and they’re very well coached. They do a lot of good stuff.”
Portales went into the fourth period down 33-32, but outscored NMMI 17-9 in the final quarter to win the district opener.
“This, for us, was a team win,” Gallegos said. “We had lots of different people step up. Sometimes you don’t have your best game, but we had lots of guys just step up and get some big stops.”
Chance Sherburne led the Rams with 11 points, followed by fellow senior Todd McBroom’s 10 points.
“We expected them to be (tough),” McBroom said. “They’ve won some big games this year. We just came out and played.”
NMMI junior point guard DeMarcus Doucette scored 6 of his game best 12 points in the fourth quarter. Senior forward Michael Durhaku finished with 8 points, followed by senior Connor Williamson’s 6.
After hitting two consecutive 3-pointers to give the visitors an early 6-1 lead, Williamson figured to give the Rams trouble, but Portales was able to keep the veteran Colt in check the rest of the game.
“We had a box-and-one on Connor Williamson and after he hit those first two (3-pointers) in the first quarter, he didn’t score after that,” Gallegos said. “And that’s a credit to the guys that were chasing him, Chris Mosier and Skyler (Partin.)”
“It was important to get district started with a win,” McBroom said. “The first one is always the biggest because it sets the tone.”
According to Gallegos, this win also helped bring the Rams together as a team.
“It’s amazing what this team has been through,” Gallegos said. “We can persevere. We can come together as a family and overcome, knowing that it takes everybody, all of the guys that played tonight, plus the guys that didn’t even get in the game, they all make us better in practice. I’m just proud of how our guys work together.”
The Rams (9-6, 1-0) continue district action Friday at Ruidoso before heading to Lovington Tuesday.
“We’re 1-0 in district now, we can’t go into Ruidoso and give one back,” Gallegos said. “They don’t like us very much in Ruidoso after (playing them) five times last year. It’s going to be a battle, no matter what Ruidoso brings, they’re going to bring their best and we just have to be ready to play.”