The Portales Rams took advantage of a red-hot first half to defeat Friona 68-48 Tuesday in their home opener.
After posting a 19-8 first quarter lead the Rams (3-1) went on a two-and-a-half minute second quarter tear that put up 14 unanswered points. Ram senior Jesse Blue opened the run with an inside bucket and added a trey from the baseline to make it 31-13. Before the Chieftains (8-5) scored again at the 4:05 mark Portales had opened up a 23-point lead.
“Our whole team was clicking tonight,” said Blue, who scored 16 of his 20 points in the first half, including four 3-pointers on the night. “We were all on the same page. We looked for the open man and got good shots.”
Portales went up 45-19 at the half but weren’t as successful in the second half. Friona senior Nick Ortiz hit three consecutive 3s, including one at the buzzer ending the third period to bring his team back to within 17 at 60-43 but the gap wouldn’t be any closer for Friona as Portales held the Chieftains to five points in the fourth period.
“We can’t turn the ball over like that and play with anybody,” Friona coach Ky Graham said. “We didn’t protect very well and they took advantage.”
Portales coach Mark Gallegos said it felt good to win the Rams first home game against a quality team like Friona. At the same time he wasn’t happy with the letdown in intensity during the second half.
“We didn’t come out with the same intensity as we did in the first half,” Gallegos said. “If we play a full 32 minutes like that first half we’ll be all right, but we can’t let down. I told the kids that some nights those shots won’t fall and we’ll have to work harder.
Senior Stephen Shields added 11 points for the Rams.
Ortiz led Friona with 18 points, all from beyond the arc. Brenner Barnett scored 11 and Simon Saijeel and Ryan DeWitt each had six.
Portales hosts Muleshoe Friday, and Gallegos says he expects the Rams to get tested inside as senior Cooper Washington hits the Portales hardwood. That game tips off at 7 p.m.