By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
It was a game that seemed destined never to end, but Portales junior guard Ky Mitchell ended it in an instant — claiming the Rams third consecutive District 4-3A tournament championship in the process.
With the score tied at 50-50 in overtime, and two seconds remaining on the clock, Portales guard Chris Mosier bounced the half-court inbounds pass to Mitchell who took one dribble and lobbed a floater through the basket as the buzzer sounded to propel the Rams past the NMMI Colts 52-50 in Saturday night’s district tournament championship game at Portales High School.
“It was a screen to throw the lob, but we changed it up to a double screen,” Mitchell said. “Todd (McBroom) looked at me and saw that I was there and let it bounce right to me and I just pulled a floater. I was so excited, everybody just started piling on me, it was great.”
“All we wanted to do was set up a double screen for Ky Mitchell and throw it to him in the corner and give him a shot,” Ram head coach Mark Gallegos said. “He kind of got tangled up a little bit but we told him with two seconds (left) he’d have time to take a dribble and shoot it.”
NMMI (19-10, 6-4) held a constant, slight lead over Portales throughout the first period. The Rams claimed their first lead of the game 11-10 early in the second quarter, and the game was tied at the half 23-23.
The Rams (16-9, 8-1) built the largest lead of the game, six points, midway through the fourth period, but the Colts battled back and pulled even as time expired.
“We didn’t do a good job defensively in the end,” Gallegos said. “But our kids kept scrapping and kept battling and I was proud of that.”
NMMI senior Rodrigo Leon was fouled as time expired in regulation and made one of two free throws with no time left on the clock to send the game into overtime.
In the extra period, the Colts held the ball for three minutes before senior Skyler Partin stole the ball to set up Mitchell’s heroics.
Portales senior Chance Sherburne led all scorers with 21 points. Sherburne was followed on the Portales bench by Mitchell and senior McBroom scoring nine points each.
NMMI senior Connor Williamson led the Colts with 20 points, including four three-pointers. Senior Tom Bottomly and junior DeMarcus Doucette added 10 points each.
As district champions, the Rams will host a first-round state tournament game next weekend. The New Mexico Activities Association will seed the Class 3A tournament this afternoon.