The Portales Rams had to wait an extra week to face Ruidoso. They’re no longer waiting for their second district win.
Jesse Blue scored a game-high 20 points, and the fast-starting Rams withheld a second-half challenge to take a 59-49 victory Thursday at Portales High School.
Shawn Carrasco added 11 for Portales (9-10, 2-2 district), which jumped out to an early lead for four times in as many District 4-3A games. But the last two games saw the Rams hold on in the second half.
The Warriors were quickly in an 18-7 hole after one, and it looked like a long night with Blue pouring in 11 before halftime.
“Jesse Blue just made a bunch of good shots,” Ruidoso coach Dennis Davis said. “It hurt us.”
Blue, a 6-foot-1, 160-pound junior, was just glad the Rams didn’t blow the 33-18 halftime advantage, which Ruidoso (9-11, 1-3) whittled down to three.
“I felt really good,” Blue said. “Teammates gave me the ball, and I shot it. Our whole team played really good, except we gave up too many baskets in the third quarter.”
Andrew Gilliiland, who led the Warriors with 19 points, matched Portales on his own with eight points during the 20-8 third-quarter run.
Portales coach Mark Gallegos said the third period was disconcerning for a squad that has already jumped out to early leads before falling short against Lovington and New Mexico Military Institute.
“When you come out and let them back in the game, it’s hard,” he said. “We were content with where we were at, and we can’t do that. It’s already cost us a district win against NMMI.”
The Rams held strong on defense, and outscored the Warriors 9-0 early in the fourth and never looked back against a Ruidoso team that shot 30 percent and turned the ball over 23 times.
“They were able to do a good job against us no matter what we ran,” Davis said.
Ruidoso is back in action on Saturday with a home game against Roswell High. Portales stays home tonight against NMMI for its third district game in five days.
“We’ve got to play one game at a time,” Gallegos said, “and if we win out, maybe we can get a tie (for the district title).”
Blue is hopeful the shooting, and the wins, can keep coming.
“At the beginning of district we started off slow,” Blue said. “Now we’re executing better, we’re playing a lot harder. Hopefully, we’ll get NMMI back at home.”