Portales boys reach 4A title game
March 11, 2017
ALBUQUERQUE — Behind its signature 1-3-1 zone and a dominant morning from Jeremie Karngbaye, the Portales boys basketball team is in its first state title game in 12 seasons.
This time it's in 4A, with a resounding 59-39 win over Silver Friday at The Pit.
Portales (25-4) returns to The Pit for Saturday's noon championship against District 4-4A rival and top seed Hope Christian. The Huskies defeated Robertson 66-42 to set up the fourth meeting of the season between the clubs.
With 23 points and nine rebounds, Karngbaye lived up to the label Silver coach Brandon Siqueiros gave him as the best player in the state. Siqueiros credited Karngbaye's length as a key cog to the Rams' stifling zone.
"We knew sooner or later we were going to have to deal with their 1-3-1. We've played them four times in two years and shot maybe 10 free throws," said Sisqueiros. "It's not the officiating, it's that we just can't get past him — with that size it's hard to get in there and draw contact."
A 23-22 halftime edge just went up after Portales switched to its 1-3-1 hybrid zone. With the defense in place, Silver's shooting fell to 25 percent in hte second half and the turnovers piled up.
"We went to our zone defense that we've been running," said Portales coach Rickie McBroom, who will make his first state title appearance as a head coach. "That defensive change made a world of difference. Not everyone runs it the way we do."
Portales also got heavy contributions from Junior Ramirez and Braden Bridges, who scored 15 and 10 points, respectively. Ramirez went 4-for-8 from the 3-point line for the Rams.
Silver was led by guards Tristin Moore and Sal Cruz, who scored all but two of their team's points. Moore finished with 21 points on 8-of-16 from the field and four 3's, while Cruz recorded 16 on 50 percent shooting as well.
The Huskies lead the season series with Portales 2-1, with both regular season wins. The Rams won the most recent contest, 36-33 for the 4-4A tournament title.
Portales' 25 wins are the most in program history since the 1948 state champions, coached by Aud Smith, defeated Navajo Mission to finish 27-1.
Portales last won the blue trophy in 2001, when they upset Ruidoso in overtime of the Class 3A championship. Portales is 5-3 in its previous state title games, also winning in 1965, 1966 and 1973.