Portales didn’t need much help Monday night defeating Class 2A opponent Tucumcari. But the visiting Rattlers gave them a little anyway.
Kevin King scored 13 points to lead the Rams to an easy 56-41 victory over the turnover-prone Rattlers at the PHS gym.
The Rams (5-7), who got 10 points from Shawn Carrasco and seven from Miguel Vasquez, never trailed and capitalized on nine first-quarter Tucumcari turnovers.
“When you throw the ball away and they don’t do anything, that hurts you,” longtime Rattlers coach John Span said. “Make them at least earn it.”
The first play of the game was an omen of the early start. King, who hit a game-high three 3-pointers, missed a corner trey attempt. The carom came to Tucumcari’s Alex Hutchins, who had already fallen to the ground. Hutchins threw an outlet pass to teammate Jake Martinez, but King was able to step in front of it and scored a transition bucket.
The Rattlers (3-9), led by Dalton Wood’s 18 points, calmed down early in the second quarter, but found themselves in a 23-7 hole early after a 3-point play from Zach Terry and a driving layup by Stephen Shields.
From there, Portales coach Mark Gallegos was disappointed in how the Rams played Tucumcari’s penetrate-and-kick offense. Though the Rattlers were 2-of-18 night from beyond the arc, most of their shots were open looks.
“I told the kids that it’s a good win, but I’m worried about the big picture,” Gallegos said. “We can’t make mistakes like that against NMMI (New Mexico Military Institute), Lovington or Dexter.”
The two-point shooting was better for the Rattlers — 16-of-32 — but Span said better shooting early could have prevented Portales from staking out such a big advantage.
“Early turnovers and easy baskets (hurt us),” Span said. “We had at least six or eight points (in the first) we would have got if we made layups.”
Both teams have challenges ahead. The Rattlers host Bosque on Friday, while the Rams face Zuni in a Thursday game to open the Hope Christian Invitational in Albuquerque.
Gallegos doesn’t want to look past either Zuni or a potential second-round matchup with Santa Fe Indian School, but a title game match against the host Huskies would be a good challenge for the Rams. The Huskies’ only blemish is a loss to La Cueva, and their 12-1 mark includes an 8-1 record against Class 5A teams.