Predictable, but still perfect.
A thinned-out Portales squad got 21 points from Macy Mitchell, and let its defense handle the rest in a 32-19 victory over Ruidoso in Saturday’s District 4-3A finale for both teams.
Nobody else on the night had more than six, and the Lady Rams never trailed en route to wrapping up a perfect record in 4-3A.
Both teams were locked into their district tournament seeds before Saturday’s game even tipped off — third-seeded Ruidoso hosts Dexter Tuesday, while top seed Portales waits until Friday to face the winner of Lovington and Tuesday’s survivor.
So each team went in with different goals. Portales’ was to rest players, and Ruidoso (12-11, 2-4) was trying to improve on its 43-17 loss to Portales earlier in the year.
“We have always come in here and not played up to our capabilities, and I don’t know if it’s playing against a big name,” Lady Warriors coach Julie Montoya said of Portales, participants in eight of the last nine Class 3A title games. “I felt like we fared better tonight. The majority of the game was a single-digit margin.”
Portales (15-8, 6-0) rested starters Jenna Wagner and Gabby Garcia, along with reserve guard Danae Garza, due to injuries. What resulted was an offense pared down to Mitchell, spot-up shooters Ashley Hernandez and Alexis Orcutt and a a bevy of bench players not used to looking for their own shots.
“Kids are used to substitution patterns, and it’s a hard thing when you have to be the one who has to get things started,” Portales coach Clay Stout said. “But it was good for us. We got to get minutes for kids who needed to play and had been working hard in practice.”
Portales ran its inside game through Mitchell, who also attempted 17 of Portales’ 22 free throws on the night.
“Things are going to go through me (with the other posts out),,” Mitchell said,” and I also try to get it out to Ashey and Alexis for 3-pointers.”
Hernandez and Orcutt each added three points, while freshman Jenna Sievers scored four for Portales.
Portales struggled offensively at times, shooting 36.7 percent on the night. But the Lady Rams were able to hang their hats on an opening 11-2 burst and a defensive effort that forced 20 Ruidoso turnovers and never surrendered more than six in any period.
Montoya wasn’t disappointed with her players’ effort, but felt the key was missing transition opportunities and second-chance points — just six on seven offensive rebounds.
Abrianna Herrera led the Lady Warriors with six, and Sydney Gonzales added five before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.