By Thomas Garcia
QCS Senior Writer
As the end of the regular season approaches, the Tucumcari Rattlers and Lady Rattlers are hungry for their first district win.
Friday’s opponents, the Texico Wolverines and Lady Wolverines, will be a tough challenges to overcome.
“Putting together four solid periods of basketball and coming out with intensity at the start of the game is what we need to do to win,” said John Span, Rattlers head coach.
The Wolverines enter Friday night’s contest (22-2) (4-1) with a New Mexico Prep ranking of 29th in the state. They have recent wins over Santa Rosa and Clayton.
The past two losses for the (11-14) (0-5) Rattlers have been from late starts from the offense or complete scoring lulls.
Span said, “We have missed too many open shots; you cannot leave those shots out there when playing such good teams.”
There will always be shots that don’t fall, he said, but if players don’t take the shot, there is no chance for points to be gained.
During Friday night’s home game against the Clayton Yellowjackets (L 61-32) the Rattlers could not break out of singe-digit scores after the first period. On the previous night in Santa Rosa (L 59-50), turnovers and a slow first half had the Rattlers fighting to catch up to the Lions.
Span said ball control is important against teams like the Lions, as is efficiency in shooting free throws. The Rattlers need just to play smart and play their game, and if they can put four periods together they can be a dangerous team, Span said.
As for the Lady Rattlers, “We are going to come out shooting the ball, starting the game with intensity and trying to carry it the whole way through the game,” said Gary Hittson, Lady Rattlers head coach.
Hittson said he knows it is going to be a battle to match up with the (15-7) (5-0) Lady Wolverines, but maybe with some heart and luck the (7-17) (0-5) Lady Rattlers can pull off an upset, he said.
The Lady Rattlers’ past two losses — 55-25 to Clayton and 53-40 to Santa Rosa — have not been without benefit. They show the Lady Rattlers can rally against their opponents.
“We have to start playing right away we can’t wait until we are six or seven points down,” said Crystal Wilson, Lady Rattler.
Wilson said the Lady Rattlers realize far too late they can play right along with the other team.
“We start building confidence way too late and it has resulted in us falling short,” she said.
Hittson said the girls have been working on being more aggressive in shooting. In the past, he said, they have passed the ball out instead of going for the shot.
The Rattlers play Texico 4 p.m. Friday at the Snake Pit.