Rams cruise past NMMI


January 26, 2020

Kevin Wilson

Portales junior guard Dason Davis drives the baseline against New Mexico Military Institute defender Hector Soto in the first quarter of Thursday's game at the Ram Athletic Center. The Rams took a 74-40 victory.

PORTALES — When New Mexico Military junior Daniel Xibille suddenly found himself in foul trouble, it didn’t take long for the Colts’ fortunes to change.

Xibille carried NMMI early, scoring 18 of his team’s 25 first-half points. But he picked up his third foul midway through the second stanza and eventually fouled out without scoring after halftime, and Portales High took advantage to breeze to a 74-40 victory on Thursday night at the Ram Athletic Center.

On Friday night, the Rams dropped to 7-12 for the season with a 71-52 setback at Roswell High.

Xibille drew his fourth personal in the first minute of the third frame, went to the bench for the rest of the stanza and fouled out barely two minutes into the final segment as the Rams steadily pulled away. The Colts (8-3), who already had a key player sitting out due to injury in junior guard Ricardo Mata, simply had no answers after that.

“We’re just not a very deep team,” said NMMI coach Connor Williamson, whose squad gets another crack at PHS in a rematch on Friday in Roswell. “We fought hard the first half; I was happy with our effort. But tonight, Portales was clearly the better team.”

The Rams probably played one of their better overall games this season, defending effectively, controlling the boards and regularly getting out on the run.

“We moved the ball extremely well,” Rams coach Rickie McBroom said. “We pushed the ball up the floor and kept the pressure on them, and that allowed us to get easy baskets and get to the free throw line.”

Twelve of the 13 Rams dented the scoring column, including six with at least eight points. Junior post Kenevan Bailey led Portales with 12 points, followed by junior forward Josiah Tellez and senior guard Rico Diaz with 11 apiece.

“On the defensive end, we got rebounds and we were able to push it,” Bailey said. “We did a good job of finishing on offense tonight.”

NMMI controlled the first quarter, leading 12-7 as Xibille funneled in 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. But Portales scored the first eight points of the second stanza, and took the lead for good on a stickback by junior Chanden Neece to kick off a 10-0 run.

Xibille drained a pair of a 3s in the final minute of the quarter to keep the Colts within 30-25 at the break, but it was all Portales after that.

“He kept them in the game,” McBroom said of Xibille. “I thought our kids did a good job overall, other than on him.”

Portales extended its lead in part because of solid (18-for-24) free throw shooting. The Rams also committed just one turnover in the middle two quarters after coughing it up five times in the opening segment.

Roswell High 71, Portales 52 (Friday) — At Roswell, the Coyotes broke open a relatively close game in the third period, but McBroom was pleased overall with his team’s effort.

“We handled their pressure pretty well,” he said. “We got some layups behind their press.

“I really like the team we’re becoming. The kids are playing hard and playing together, and it’s a good time to do that.”

Portales’ next two games will also be in Roswell, starting with the NMMI contest. The Rams then open District 4-4A play on Feb. 4 at Goddard.

Bailey and senior Kellan Hightower scored 11 points each and senior Philip Blidi added 10 for the Rams. Portales went 17-for-22 from the foul line, led by Hightower’s 8-for-8.

“That’s the third or fourth game in a row where we’ve shot the ball well from the free throw line,” McBroom said. “We’re looking forward to (this) week because we’ll get four days to practice and try to correct some things.”

Roswell High (15-5), which converted nine 3-pointers in the game, led just 36-31 at the break, but limited the Rams to four points in the third stanza to take control. Junior Taymon Burrola led the Coyotes with 19 points, while junior Alonzo Costa chipped in 16 and senior Dominic Nava had 12.


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