The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Portales survives with 3-point barrage against Ruidoso


February 21, 2018

Eric Murray

Portales' Ethan Self shoots a 3-pointer in the second quarter of Tuesday's district quarterfinal win against Ruidoso.

PORTALES — In a game reminiscent of a well-executed 3-point contest, the Rams' late-game long-range exploits gave them the last laugh in a 55-51 win over Ruidoso, in Tuesday night's 4A-District 4 boys basketball quarterfinal. Portales and Ruidoso combined for 22 3s, but it was three key 3-point baskets down the stretch that catapulted the Rams to victory. With the win, Portales advances to Thursday's district semifinal against Moriarty at 5 p.m.

"Just keep them from scoring," Rams coach Rickie McBroom said of his team's late-game strategy, laughing. "It really came down to trying to get one stop and one rebound. That's what it was all about at the end. We were up three a couple times and our kids were playing really "out," so we tried to take away the 3."

Trailing 44-41 to start the fourth quarter, Ruidoso (14-13, 3-7) tied it up with a deep 3 from Brady Mendez. Sebastian Polendo soon added a trey of his own to put the Warriors in front, before Ethan Self's corner triple tied it at 47-all.

Mendez launched yet another deep trey and hit once again, as Portales (15-11, 5-4) eventually took a timeout with 3:31 to play. Kellan Hightower soon hit a 3 out of the timeout to tie it up once more, before both sides exchanged missed free throws.

Self, however, hit another big 3 to put his Rams ahead, 53-50, with 59 seconds on the clock. Mendez' drive to the lane resulted in a foul, as he went on to split his free throws, before Self split a pair of free throws of his own to extend the lead back to three.

In the end, Ruidoso missed a layup that gave the Rams the ball back with just 2.3 seconds to play. Self led Portales with 16 points on 5-of-8 3-point shooting, while Polendo and Josh Romero paced the Warriors with 14 points apiece.

For Ruidoso, it has now lost three times this year to Portales, by a combined margin of just 16 points.

"We forced a couple of shots that weren't good shots, and I think that was the difference. We're tied at 50, we shot a long range 3 and we didn't need to. That was the one thing, and Portales hit a big 3 down the stretch," Warriors coach Billy Page explained. "We've blown leads in every game (against Portales). That's the frustrating part to me as a coach. I gotta do a better job of closing out games and not putting it on my kids. But I thought we gave ourselves a chance, and that's all I can ask for."

As for the early going, it was much of the same, as both sides traded 3s back and forth, as Portales' five-point lead at the end of the first quarter turned into a three-point deficit by halftime.

In the end, Portales hit the key shots from downtown in crunch time, finishing 12-of-28 (42 percent) from beyond the arc. And while the Warriors are still asking themselves what they can do to finally beat Portales, the Rams are hoping to flip the script on Thursday against Moriarty.

Thus far, the Rams have had two down-to-the-wire losses by a combined three points against the Pintos, but unlike Ruidoso, Portales is hoping that the old adage about a third instance holds true when it travels to Moriarty on Thursday.

"I say that (trying to beat a team three times is tough) all the time. In fact, I just told that to our kids, going into Moriarty," McBroom said. "I wouldn't be able to beat Moriarty, and it's tough on us tonight, because anytime you beat somebody, you don't know how your kids are gonna look at it.

"We were able to win and advance and that's what it's about at this time of the year. We'll regroup tomorrow, talk about Moriarty, get a gameplan in, get on the bus on Thursday and see if the third time's the charm."


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