Nick Bliss puts up a shot Friday night in Ram gym against Ruidoso junior guard Jerrid Marquez.
A close, sloppy first half evolved into a breakaway 53-38 win for the Portales Rams over Ruidoso Friday night, putting the Rams in the District 4-3A driver’s seat.
“It was a real sloppy first half,” Gallegos said. “We couldn’t convert. We could have had 20 points off of just stick backs and layups. It was kind of ugly and we just need to learn how to finish.”
The Rams began the game on a tear, going on an 8-0 run early in the first quarter. But Ruidoso answered with a 9-3 run of their own to close the period.
The Rams took their largest lead of the game midway through the second quarter at 20-12, but senior Chris Mosier picked up his third foul early in the second quarter and Portales went into the break up 23-17.
The Ruidoso boys came out fast in the third quarter with a 5-0 run to trim the Ram lead to 23-21. Portales sophomore post Marcus Slocum collected his fourth foul midway through the quarter, but that’s where the home team took control.
“I was proud of the way the kids came out in the third quarter,” Gallegos said. “They battled.”
The Rams went on a 13-4 run as junior Nick Bliss hit a jump-shot with two minutes remaining in the third quarter to grab a 36-25 lead, and the host Rams led 38-27 after the third quarter.
Portales picked up a 40-27 lead in the fourth and never looked back.
Gallegos also said many fouls came out of the Rams pressing for the first time this season.
“We’re trying to press,” Gallegos said. “It’s kind of late in the year to be learning to press, but we just felt like we needed it to get up on people and we knew we were going to get into some foul trouble, but we just need to be smarter about it.”
“We were too ready for this game,” Slocum said. “We got so many fouls early. We had a whole lot of fouls.”
Slocum led all scorers with 18 points despite foul trouble throughout the second half.
Junior Nick Bliss added 11 and sophomore Shawn Carrasco contributed 10.
Gallegos called out Carrasco as having one of his best games of the season.
“He kind of got back to his old self,” Gallegos said. “Just playing slow and under control.
He hit some big shots and handled the ball for us. I was real proud of him.”
Junior Schuyler Talsma led the Warriors with 13 points, followed by seniors Curtis Hobby and Lance Dettmer, each with 7 points.
The Rams host Lovington Tuesday in a battle of district unbeatens, and Gallegos pegged this game as one of the games of the year.
“(They’re) probably as talented as anybody in the state of New Mexico in 3A,” Gallegos said. “We’ve gotta have the crowd as a huge factor. We need them up. Our crowd is going to be big for us.”
“It’s a really big game,” Slocum said. “It’s our rivals and they’re a good team.”