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Lady Rams overwhelmed by Rio Rancho in semis

CLOVIS — If they hadn’t been already, the Portales Lady Rams’ problems against pressure defense were clearly exposed Tuesday.

Rio Rancho hounded the Lady Rams from start to finish, forcing Portales into more turnovers (31) than shots (25) and rolling to a 51-25 victory in the championship semifinals of the Plateau Holiday Classic.

Rio Rancho (10-2) advanced to today’s 6:30 p.m. championship game against unbeaten host Clovis (12-0). Portales takes on La Cueva (4-4) in the third-place battle, set for 1 p.m.

While they struggled all game long, the Lady Rams (5-6) had a particularly hard time in the first three quarters when they committed 27 turnovers while managing only three field goals — one in each period — in 14 attempts.

PHS coach Brenda Gomez said her team, which had won five of six after an 0-4 start, is making strides — just not as quickly as she and her players would like.

“We’re taking some hard lessons,” Gomez said. “We’ve got to get better against pressure, and we will. We’ve just got to hurry. We’re on a timetable to get to that point.”

Rio Rancho, which lost to PHS in the semifinals of this tournament last year, has had two blowout wins this week, allowing a total of only 53 points, and coach Bob McIntire said his team is anxious to play someone like Clovis.

“I know we want to play them and have a chance to beat them,” said McIntire, whose team suffered one of its losses at the hands of Clovis (44-35) in the finals of its own tournament earlier this month. “We’re not in awe of them, but we have a lot of respect for them.”

McIntire said his team didn’t really have as easy a time as it may have looked against Portales.

“We beat a good basketball team,” he said. “Brenda has done a great job with her kids. We played one of the better games we’ve played all year long, and it’s a nice win for our kids.”

Gomez said her team didn’t react to the physical nature of the game.

“The girls were getting hammered, and we don’t play that style,” she said. “If the officials are going to let you play that way, you have to be able to adjust.”

Actually, despite its dominance, Rio Rancho struggled on offense in its own right, especially in the first half, and led 22-8 at the intermission primarily because of four 3-pointers from junior guard Kiah Rotunno.

Rio Rancho quickly put the game out of reach when play resumed, however, outscoring Portales 8-0 in the first 1 1/2 minutes of the third quarter behind two 3-pointers from senior Denise Kerns.

Senior post Nicole Tatum scored 15 points and Rotunno finished with 14 for Rio Rancho, which committed 10 of its 13 turnovers in the second half.

No one came close to double figures for the Lady Rams, who were led by six points from junior Megan Kabrick. Portales shot 28 percent for the game (7-of-25) and managed only 11-of-21 from the free throw line.

Rio Rancho 51, Portales 25

Rio Rancho (10-2) — Stevie Puentes 1 2-4 4, Stepahnie Lopez 1 1-2 3, Megan Muniz 0 0-0 0, Kiah Rotunno 5 0-0 14, Denise Kerns 3 0-0 9, Melissa Juchniewicz 0 0-0 0, Christine Sexson 3 0-0 6, Nicole Tatum 4 7-8 15, Cera Orozco 0 0-2 0, Tahni Edmo 0 0-2 0. Totals 17-55 10-18 51.

Portales (5-6) — Tara Johnson 1-5 2-2 4, Rebekah Gonzales 0-0 0-0 0, Briana Hernandez 2-4 0-0 4, Caroline Knudson 0-0 0-0 0, Stefanie Sharrock 1-1 0-0 2, Megan Kabrick 2-6 2-6 6, Patty Terry 0-2 0-0 0, Bethany Self 0-4 2-4 2, Amanda Terry 0-1 0-0 0, Morgan Hill 1-1 3-5 5, Dora Garcia 0-0 0-0 0, Ashleah Richards 0-1 2-4 2. Totals 7-25 11-21 25.

Rio Rancho 14 8 11 18 — 51

Portales 3 5 3 14 — 25

3-pointers — Rio Rancho 7-17 (Rotunno 4, Kerns 3), Portales 0-4 (Hernandez 0-2, Johnson 0-2). Rebounds — Rio Rancho 31, Portales 27 (Hill 8). Assists — Rio Rancho n/a, Portales 5 (Self 2). Total fouls — Rio Rancho 20, Portales 9. Fouled out — Edmo.

Plateau Holiday Classic

At Clovis

Monday’s quarterfinals

Portales 42, Farmington 36

Rio Rancho 73, Carlsbad 28

La Cueva 48, Gadsden 31

Clovis 64, Abilene (Texas) Cooper 40

Tuesday’s semifinals

Consolation bracket

Cooper 46, Gadsden 39

Farmington 56, Carlsbad 49

Championship bracket

Rio Rancho 51, Portales 25

Clovis 68, La Cueva 30

Wednesday’s finals

Carlsbad vs. Gadsden (7th), 10:45 a.m.

Farmington vs. Cooper (5th), 9 a.m.

Portales vs. La Cueva (3rd), 1 p.m.

Rio Rancho vs. Clovis (championship), 6:30 p.m.

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