By Dave Wagner
The Portales Rams intended to keep a tight watch on West Las Vegas freshman guard D.J. Bustos.
Mission accomplished, at least to some extend, as Bustos had to work hard for 17 points. But he got enough help from his teammates as the Dons pulled away in the final five minutes for a 58-50 win over the Rams in the Portales Shoot Out on Friday night at the Ram Athletic Center.
Bustos, the son of Dons coach David Bustos, had four of the team’s seven 3-pointers. Meantime, the Rams hit six 3-pointers, but struggled to put anything together on a consistent basis.
“They had some kids make some shots that we weren’t expecting,” Rams coach Rickie McBroom said. “We knew Bustos was good, but they had some other kids step up”
Junior forward Andres Gallegos added 12 points for the Dons (5-5), getting five points — including a key 3-pointer — after the Rams pulled to 45-43.
“That’s a big win for our program,” said coach Bustos, in his first year at the school. “Overall, everybody contributed and it was a great team effort.”
Senior forward Daniel Sanchez sparked a late rally and finished with a game-high 21 points and a team-leading eight rebounds,
Portales (7-5), coming off a four-overtime win at Artesia on Tuesday, led 13-8 late in the first quarter. With the game tied midway through the second period, senior post Zach Campbell was called for his third foul, then assessed a technical for his fourth and did not return to the game.
Campbell was off to a good start, with eight points. Junior guard Martin Castellano broke a 21-21 tie and put the Dons in front for good with the final five points of the half, including a 3-pointer
D.J. Bustos hit a pair of 3-pointers as West built a 37-26 lead midway through the third period before the Rams rallied back.
“I thought our defense was pretty tight tonight,” coach Bustos said. “We executed our offensive sets pretty well. Andres Gallegos had a couple of big 3s.”
The Rams had six 3-pointers, but struggled overall and also went just 2-for-11 from the free throw line.
Portales plays Las Vegas Robertson (3-10), which held off Santa Fe Indian 53-47 in the first boys game.
“The good thing is our kids battled to the end,” McBroom said. “I felt like we had the shots we wanted; we just didn’t make them.
“Our challenge now is to get ready to play Robertson. We have to respond in a positive way.”
Portales 52, Taos 25 (girls) — The Lady Rams wasted no time taking out the Lady Tigers, rolling to a 22-5 lead at the quarter as sophomores Sheraya Cox and Kambrey Blakey combined for 10 points for Portales (12-1).
“We wanted to get off to a good start,” PHS coach Wade Fraze said. “It had been a while since we played (Dec. 28). We got to play a lot of kids (with a big lead), and I was glad we were able to do that.”
Cox finished the night with 17 points and six steals, while Junior Feliz Espinoza led Taos with 10.
Portales takes on Tularosa (9-3) at 5 p.m. tonight. The Lady Wildcats were beaten on Friday by Roswell Goddard 71-52.