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

By Matthew Asher
Carlsbad Current-Argus 

Rams pull upset

 

January 27, 2019

Matthew Asher

From left, the Portales trio of Philip Blidi, Kellan Hightower and Kenevan Bailey deny Carlsbad's Patrick Espinoza a layup in the first half of Tuesday's game. Portales beat Carlsbad 50-48 and ended the Cavemen's five-game winning streak.

CARLSBAD – Trailing Portales 48-44 with 10 seconds left, Carlsbad knew it would need help for a chance to send the game into overtime. A quick sprint after the inbound pass allowed Josh Sillas to drain a 3-pointer and get fouled, allowing the Cavemen a chance to tie the game with a free throw with 4.8 seconds left.

The crowd's intensity picked up as Sillas, an 82 percent free throw shooter, went to the free throw line and prepared to send his team into overtime.

The shot was off the mark and a rebound attempt by Andrew Miller was ruled out of bounds, giving the ball to Portales, allowing the Rams to end Carlsbad's five-game winning streak, 50-48.

After struggling in the first half, including trailing by double digits, Carlsbad (11-7) fought back to retake the lead in the fourth quarter but was unable to put away Portales (12-6).

"One play never defines a basketball game," Carlsbad coach Jamaal Brown said after the game. "I'm proud of my kids' effort. They fought hard in the second half. Being down in the first half we got it together at halftime. It takes a lot of energy to fight back from being down that much. I think you saw it down the stretch."

Portales spent the majority of the game guarding Carlsbad in a box-and-one defense, designed to slow down and limit Carlsbad's Sillas from getting open for easy shots.

"Carlsbad was doing some things to us that were forcing us to switch on defense," Portales coach Rickie McBroom said of the defensive look. "Our kids were able to adjust. It was really about defensive adjustments and getting the ball through the pressure. We wanted to spread it at the end and hold (Josh Sillas), he's a great player. Our whole key was to slow him down and we'd have a good chance to win."

Sillas led the Cavemen in scoring, but was limited to 17 points. Miller added 14 points for Carlsbad to round out the double-digit scoring. Master Taplin led Portales with only 13 points, but a total of nine Rams scored in the game.

While Carlsbad fought back to take a small lead in the fourth quarter, it was the lack of free throws that eventually ended Carlsbad's chance at a win. Carlsbad had seven free throw attempts in the fourth quarter and 18 for the game. Portales had 23 free throw attempts in the fourth quarter and 36 for the game. The Rams went 14-for-23 in the final period and Carlsbad went just 4-of-7.

"Portales made some key free throws and had some key rebounds and some extra possessions," Brown said of the final period. "Anytime a team doubles you up on free throws - they shot 36 and we shot 18 - and you lose by two, I don't think you need to look further than that."

 
 

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