Portales girls top Dons, Robertson


December 15, 2019

PORTALES — A team’s home opener is always a big deal because ... well ... it’s the home opener.

And Portales’ girls basketball team turned in a performance that fit the occasion Tuesday night. The Lady Rams led most of the game and pulled away for a 71-53 victory over previously-undefeated West Las Vegas in front of a sparse but enthusiastic crowd at the Ram Athletic Center.

“West is always scrappy, and I knew they’d be tough coming in,” Portales head coach Wade Fraze said. “They have a lot of fight in them, they’ve got some good players. They’ve good a great ball-handler and shooter, No. 11 (Briana Marquez); she’s smart, she’s quick, she finds the open people and they knock it down. So I was very, very pleased with how the girls responded. I told the girls after the game it was a closer ball game than what the score indicated. It was never easy.”

“I think we played as a team, which really helped us,” Lady Rams sophomore point guard Teagan Faust said after scoring a game-high 19 points to go with six rebounds and two steals. “It was a good win, especially to start off with our first home game of the season.”

Portales was able to take control in part because of gritty rebounding on the offensive glass. The Lady Rams should have been temporarily called the Lady Bulldogs because of the way they scrapped, scrapped and scrapped some more. At one crucial stage early in the third quarter with Portales only up by three, Faust scored on a putback that was Portales’ fourth chance of the trip into West Las Vegas’ paint.

In fact, all six of Faust’s rebounds were on the offensive boards.

“We try to focus on all rebounds for sure,” Fraze said, “but offensive rebounds are huge for us, because it gives you that many more opportunities to score.”

“We just did good blocking out,” Faust said.

After falling behind 3-2 in the game’s early minutes thanks to a Marquez three-point play completed from the line, Portales got a go-ahead bucket from junior Kinzie Davis and never trailed again. Davis’ basket was the start of a 7-0 run for the Lady Rams, though they were only up 11-10 late in the first quarter and 14-10 with seconds to go.

Off an inbound with 1.8 seconds left in the first, Portales sophomore Riley Shillings canned a right-side baseline jumper to make it a 16-10 game.

Though the Lady Rams had double-digit leads three different times in the second quarter — 26-16, 29-19 and 33-23 — they led only 33-28 at halftime.

West Las Vegas closed to within 35-32, then 37-34, each time on Cameron Sandoval points — two free throws at the first juncture and a field goal at the second. And it seemed that the Lady Dons would have a chance to draw even closer on Portales’ next trip down the floor, before the Lady Rams’ had that four-chance possession ending with Faust’s follow-up that made it 39-34.

Davis ended West Las Vegas’ next possession with a steal, and she finished on the other end with a follow-up shot to give Portales a seven-point lead.

The Lady Dons’ following possession ended in similar fashion, this time with an Alexis Ryen steal that created a possession ended by a pull-up jumper from Mattison Blakey, handing the Lady Rams a 43-34 lead.

It was still a nine-point difference, 47-38, late in the third quarter when Portales closed the period on a 7-2 run to carry a 54-40 lead into the fourth.

There, Portales opened things up, never leading by less than 10. To indicate how the Lady Rams seemed to get better and more dominant as the game wore down, their 71-53 final was their biggest lead of the night.

An impressive home opener for Portales. Fraze was all the more impressed with the fans’ involvement.

“I loved our crowd support,” he said. “The crowd really, really supported us.”

Portales 57, Robertson 32 (Friday) — The Lady Rams cruised to their fourth win in five outings this season, building a 14-point halftime lead behind 22 points from sophomore Taris Rippee, including two 3-pointers and 8-for-8 from the foul line.

Rippee scored eight points — six at the foul line — as the Lady Rams rolled to a 16-8 lead at the quarter. Ryen finished the game with 14 points, and Faust added 10 points and eight steals.

Sophomore Stella Garcia and senior Jasmine Barela each scored eight points for the Lady Cardinals (1-4).


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