By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
The Portales basketball fans are often referred to as the sixth man. Friday night against Lovington, they earned that title.
Spurred on by a packed house, the Rams took control of District 4-3A by beating district rival Lovington 36-29.
The Rams (14-8, 6-1) can clinch the regular-season district title and a number one seed in the District 4-3A tournament with a win Friday at Dexter.
Lovington (10-10, 5-2) fell a game back, with one of its district losses to the Rams.
“The crowd was huge,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said. “We haven’t had that kind of student body in a long time, and our kids just fed off of that (especially) defensively.”
Senior post Chance Sherburne led the Portales attack, scoring six of his game-high 17 points in the first quarter.
Leading 17-15 at the halftime, the Rams pulled away with a 9-3 scoring run in the third quarter. Sherburne scored five points in the third.
“This was a really big win,” Rams junior Chris Mosier said. “This is the game we’ve been waiting for all year.”
“We just gutted it out, a great defensive performance,” Gallegos said.
Despite the big win, Gallegos still saw points to improve on.
“We didn’t have a great offensive effort. We missed a lot of easy shots in the first half, a little uncharacteristic,” Gallegos said. “But our team is built on defense, and we showed that tonight.”
Cruz Ontiveros, Todd McBroom and Ky Mitchell added five points each for the Rams.
Senior Brad Voight led Lovington with 10 points and junior Courtney Mackey added eight.
“Our goal was to basically hold them to 35,” Gallegos said. “Our other deal was not to allow Voight and Mackey to get 15. Well they got, 18 so my guys are a little upset.”
The Lady Rams try to stay unbeaten in District 4-3A as they host Lovington tonight at Portales High School.