By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
Portales boys coach Mark Gallegos wanted to know if his Rams could compete with one of the top teams in Class 4A. After Friday night, he has no doubt.
The Roswell Coyotes outscored Portales 16-6 in the third quarter, then survived a late Portales charge to beat the Rams 51-43 at Portales High School.
“They’re one of the best teams in 4A right there,” Gallegos said. “They’re ranked third, but they have a legitimate shot to win (the state championship) this year.”
Senior Bryant Thomas scored six of his 11 points in the first quarter as the Coyotes took a 14-11 lead. Meantime, Portales’ Chance Sherburne contributed 12 of his game-high 22 points in the first half to keep the Rams within 23-21 at the half.
Eight Coyotes scored in the third, helping Roswell take a 12-point lead into the final period.
“I think a lot of people looked up at the scoreboard at the end of the third quarter and said, ‘We’re down 12, what’s Portales going to do?’” Gallegos said. “And our fans have the right to ask that question. And we got down and played some defense.”
The Rams (10-6) did play defense, and solid offense as well, as Sherburne scored 8 points, along with fellow senior Cruz Ontiveros’ 5 points to eventually cut the Coyotes’ lead to three, but the Rams never got closer.
“We feel like we missed a lot of easy shots in a lot of places,” Sherburne said. “But on the other hand it was the right time to play man defense, so we just needed to gut it out and play.”
Gallegos was encouraged with his team’s performance.
“For us to come out and play like that, especially after the way the year started out, I was happy with the kids, and I was happy with their heart and how they never quit,” Gallegos said.
“I think we grew up tonight defending, it didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to. We’re not big on moral victories but I was proud of the way the kids came back.”
The Rams take a 2-0 District 4-3A record into a makeup game tonight at Ruidoso.