By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
The Portales Lady Rams used long-range shooting and stifling defense to punch their ticket to a 25th consecutive Class 3A state quarterfinals appearance.
Senior shooting guard Briana Hernandez poured in 23 points, including six 3-pointers, as the defending state champions overwhelmed Cobre 74-31 in a first-round game of the state tournament Friday night at Portales High School.
“It’s real satisfying (to play well in my last game at home),” Hernandez said. “I’m just sad that it has to come to an end. It all just played itself out well.”
No. 16 seed Cobre stayed close with the top-seeded Lady Rams in the first period, as Portales led 10-6 with under a minute left in the first.
However, senior Sabrina Villanueva sank a pair of 3-pointers to help Portales surge to a 20-point lead.
Hernandez hit four 3s in the Lady Rams’ 32-point second quarter, which gave Portales a 47-17 halftime lead.
“It was a total team effort,” Portales junior Vicki Huber said. “We all love each other so much, and we just clicked tonight. It’s amazing.”
Villanueva and fellow senior Kaycee Quick added nine points each for the Lady Rams (16-9).
Junior shooting guard Cecilia North led the Lady Indians (12-14) with 15 points, including three 3-pointers.
“At times we lost (North),” Portales coach Brenda Gomez said. “And that disappointed me. We should pay more attention to where they’re at, and know where she’s at all the time. In the first half she had 12 of their 17 points. You’ve got to pay more attention to that and not let her have that.”
Portales meets District 4-3A foe Ruidoso in Tuesday’s quarterfinals at the Pit in Albuquerque. The Lady Rams have beaten Ruidoso (17-10) three times this season.
Ruidoso, the No. 9 seed, beat Laguna-Acoma 61-52 on Friday.
“We’ve got to concentrate on what we’re going to be doing,” Gomez said. “In the state tournament, anything can happen.”