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

Artesia size proves troubling for Rams


February 9, 2020

PORTALES — The Artesia boys basketball roster lists five players at 6-foot-3 or taller, four of whom started. Meantime, Portales has just one.

The size differential was a key factor as the Bulldogs captured Friday’s District 4-4A matchup over PHS 67-59 at the Ram Athletic Center.

Six-foot-4 junior guard Tucker Smotherman had five of Artesia’s six 3-pointers and finished with 17 points, while 6-6 senior post Cole Kincaid added 15 points and harassed the Rams’ attempts at penetration with several blocked shots.

Portales (8-13, 0-1 district), which faced a district makeup on Saturday night at Roswell Goddard, tried to stay in the game with long-range shooting, converting 10 3-pointers. In the end, though, it simply wasn’t enough.

Rams coach Rickie McBroom was focused on the team’s quick turnaround, caused by Tuesday’s snowout.

“This one is over,” he said. “We just have to come focused on Goddard.”

The teams exchanged the lead several times through the early stages of the second quarter, but the Bulldogs (14-8, 2-0) went on a 19-5 run that carried late into the period and, except for a brief tie in the third stanza, led the rest of the way.

The 6-foot Diaz also topped PHS in rebounds with seven, followed by juniors Dason Davis and Kenevan Bailey with five apiece.

“It felt like the first half we could’ve rebounded better,” McBroom said. “The second half we did, and that allowed us to have a chance.”

Artesia struggled early with turnovers, committing seven in the opening segment, but still came out of it with a 15-12 lead. The long second-quarter run allowed the Bulldogs to ward off Rams comeback attempts.

“I’m just proud of the way we battled,” Bulldogs coach Michael Mondragon said. “This is a tough place to come in and get a win, but I’m proud of the way we played.”

Senior guard Rico Diaz led the Rams with a career-best 22 points, while senior guard Kellan Hightower added 17. They combined for seven 3-pointers in the contest.

“I thought he had a good night,” McBroom said of Diaz. “I thought we had a lot of kids who played hard.”

Artesia has put itself in a good spot in the district race. The Bulldogs host Goddard and visit Lovington this week.

“They’re all good teams (in the district),” Mondragon said. “But we got a road win and we’re 2-0 in the district, and that’s all that matters.”

Meantime, Portales closes out the home portion of its schedule against Lovington on Tuesday and Goddard on Friday. Road trips to Artesia and Lovington the following week to wrap up the regular campaign.


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