The Portales Rams nailed down the No. 2 seed in next week’s District 4-3A boys tournament, although it wasn’t exactly a virtuoso performance.
Senior guard Shawn Carrasco scored 17 points and hit a key 3-pointer late in the third quarter as the Rams held off Dexter 46-39 at the PHS gym.
The Rams (12-12, 5-3 district) will host a semifinal game in the tournament at 7 p.m. Thursday, with the winner of that game visiting top-seeded Lovington in Saturday’s title clash.
Dexter (4-21, 0-8), which has lost 13 in a row, visits fourth-seeded Ruidoso on Monday, with that winner playing at New Mexico Military the next night.
The Demons played the Rams tough after falling behind 22-8 at the end of the first quarter, but they were unable to get closer than six points.
“You can’t deny the effort was there,” Demons coach J.T. Bracken said. “At the end, each possession is so crucial. It’s like sands in the hour glass — they leave and you can’t get them back.”
Rams coach Mark Gallegos played his entire 12-man roster in the first quarter, and said the liberal subbing led to some unusual combinations.
“We tried to play a lot of kids, and I think we got a little lackadaisical,” he said. “Give a lot of credit to Dexter; they never quit and kept battling.”
Portales never trailed, but never got the margin back to 14 after the first quarter. Carrasco’s 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter pushed the lead to 40-29, and gave the Rams enough cushion late.
Dexter pulled to 44-38 with 2:45 left on a three-point play by sophomore guard Justin Salas, but after a turnover 6-foot-8 Demons senior Nicholas Deutsch missed a short jumper off an inbounds play and the Rams held on from there.
“We’ve struggled all year closing people out,” Gallegos said. “That’s something you have to do at this time of the year.”
Bracken said slow starts have plagued his team in several games this season.
“We’ve got to be able to get over the hump,” he said. “We’ve got Ruidoso on Monday in the tournament; hopefully, we can learn from this.”
Deutsch led the Demons with 12 points.
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