The Portales Rams like to play up in competition prior to District 4-3A competition, figuring it gives them a good idea where they stand.
Right now, they’re taking their lumps. Coming off a 44-point loss to Clovis in their opener, the Rams fell to 0-2 Tuesday night with a 64-26 loss to defending Class 4A champion Roswell High at the PHS gym.
It might not get much easier in the near future, either. On Friday, the Rams host Las Cruces-based Mesilla Valley, one of the top teams in recent years in Class 2A.
The Coyotes (2-0), who whacked 4-3A member Ruidoso 73-22 on Nov. 20, simply had too much size and experience for Portales. Roswell High starts three players 6-foot-4 or taller, while no one in the Rams’ regular rotation stands above 6-1.
“We’ve played two really good teams, and we’re questioning ourselves a little bit,” veteran Rams coach Mark Gallegos said. “Our effort’s really good, but we’ve got to have a little better execution.”
Junior guard Andrew Villanueva broke the scoring ice with a 3-pointer from the corner a minute into the contest, but the Rams added only one more basket over the next nine minutes as Roswell opened an 18-5 lead.
Portales played relatively even the rest of the half, but could never get the margin under double figures again and trailed 32-17 at the break. The Rams scored nine second-half points, including just two field goals — both by junior post Jesse Blue in the third period.
Gallegos conceded confidence is a bit of a problem at this point.
“We’ve played two of the toughest teams we’re going to play all year long,” he said. “(Roswell High is) a good basketball team; I give them a lot of credit. They’re the defending 4A state champs for a reason.”
The tallest Coyote, 6-8 senior forward Marek Olesinski, did most of his damage from the perimeter — five 3-pointers for a game-high 15 points.
With four starters back from last year, Coyotes coach Britt Cooper said his squad is primed for another strong postseason run. The Coyotes face Denver Lincoln on Thursday in a tournament at Artesia.
“We hadn’t played since Nov. 20 and it looked like it,” Cooper said. “But as it went along our size wore them down, and Olesinski shot the ball pretty well.
Junior guard Deyton DeLaCerda was the Coyotes’ only other double-figure scorer, finishing with 10 points. The Rams, meantime, got a pair of 3-pointers and 10 points from Blue.