Tara Johnson goes up for a rebound late in the fourth quarter Tuesday against Ruidoso. The Lady Rams easily beat the Lady Warriors 70-32. (PNT staff photo: Karl Terry)
It’s hard to play basketball with your jaw on the floor.
After the Portales Lady Rams dominated Ruidoso 70-32, Lady Warriors coach Becky Austin said her team played more like star-struck fans than challenging opponents.
“We were a little bit, I guess you would say, in awe when we first came out on the court,” Austin said. “Portales has as good of a ball team as you’ll find in the state.”
The Lady Rams (19-7, 5-0 District 4-3A) jumped all over Ruidoso, getting a 44-10 halftime lead.
Portales senior post Morgan Hill single-handedly outscored the Lady Warriors in the first half, notching 15 before the break. She finished with a game-high 20.
Freshman guard Haley Williams scored 9 for the Lady Warriors (7-15, 0-5).
Despite the margin of victory, Portales coach Brenda Gomez said she did not like the way her team let the lead shrink in the second half.
“They scored 13 points in the third period when they only scored 10 points in the first half,” Gomez said of Ruidoso. “They didn’t bring any new people or anything else. We didn’t play with intensity, so I wasn’t real happy with the second half.”
Austin said in the second half her team was not looking to make a miraculous comeback, but they wanted to show they belonged on the court.
“When you’re playing a game like that, it’s about pride. It’s about dignity and pride.” Austin said. “I appealed to them that they need to dig down deep right now. I challenged them a little bit and they seemed to rise to the occasion."
The Lady Warriors came out to play in the third quarter and outscored Portales 13-11.
Gomez said playing with a large lead is nothing new for her team, so she expects a better effort down the stretch.
“We’ve been doing that (getting a halftime lead) for a months,” Gomez said. “We’ve talked and talked about it, but there’s no more talking about it, either you do it or you don’t”
Portales senior Briana Hernandez said it is difficult to keep pushing when the team is already ahead by 30, but she knows her coach has long term goals in mind.
“We knew it was going to happen, so we just have to be ready,” Hernandez said. “(Gomez) is going to tell us the ups and downs, she’s not going to keep that back. It just makes us better.”
Hernandez scored 13 for the Lady Rams and senior Megan Kabrick added 11.
The Lady Rams’ schedule is empty until they host the district tournament championship on Feb. 25.
Hernandez said her team will keep practice intense over the next week and a half to stay sharp.
“I would rather have a few games,” Hernandez said. “So we’ll just have to practice hard and pretend it’s a game.”