PORTALES — Seth Bailey wishes he was a little better at free throws sometimes. He seems to have stealing a win down, however.
The Texico senior singlehandledly closed out Portales, scoring the Wolverines’ final 10 points in a 51-50 nailbiter Tuesday over Portales for its third-straight victory.
The final two minutes Bailey, who finished with 30 points, outscored Portales 10-4, grab three steals and rebounded his missed free throw for a putback with eight seconds left to put the game on ice.
“There was no way we were getting the ball back with them shooting 72 percent (14-of-19 in the second half),” Bailey said of Portales (11-12). “Turnovers helped us win the game.”
The Class 3A Rams hit all eight of their shot attempts in the fourth quarter, including a Stephen Shields 3-pointer as time expired. But the Class 2A Wolverines (22-2) capitalized on a litany of Portales errors, including four turnovers in the final 1:55, that had Ram coach Mark Gallegos replaying the final two minutes in his mind.
“He’s one of the best guards we’ve played all year in any class, but it was more about what we didn’t do at the end of the game,” Gallegos said. “He wanted the ball; he willed his team to a win. We didn’t have anybody who stepped up for us like that.”
Trailing 46-41, Bailey got the comeback started with a layup off a steal in the open court. He grabbed another steal with 1:40 left and hit both free throws to cut the lead to one.
Bailey picked up his fourth foul on the other end, as Clay Bonner hit 1-of-2 free throws, but he gave the Wolverines the lead for good on a three-point play with :35 left.
He picked off one more Portales pass with 16 seconds to play, and was sent to the line with his squad up 48-47. He hit the first shot with 10 seconds left, but couldn’t convert the second.
“I’m always shooting my free throws short,” said Bailey, who put back his miss for the four-point advantage.
Texico coach Richard Luscombe said the Wolverines put a lot of expectations on Bailey, and he came through on a night where nothing else seemed to work.
“We never got into a rhythm, period. I tried a lot of combinations,” Luscombe said. “Every time we put somebody else in, we’d have a turnover.”
Quinn Winkles and Garrett Foote each added five for the Wolverines.
“We told them at halftime keep shooting the ball, keep attacking the basked and make good things happen,” Luscombe said. “We had just enough good things happen.”
Shawn Carrasco had 16 and Shields had 10 for Portales, which faces Dexter to close out the regular season. Gallegos singled out Bonner for his defensive effort on Bailey in the box-and-one, noting that many of Bailey’s points came not off of Bonner but on transition buckets and free throws.