By Kevin Wilson
A quick glance at the final score would indicate a Portales blowout, 49-35, in Tuesday night’s game against Ruidoso.
A closer look, however, would reveal a dichotomy for the Lady Rams and their intensity level. There was the first Portales team, which shot 75 percent in the first half and overmatched the visiting Lady Warriors for a 26-12 lead.
Then there was the second half, which saw Ruidoso stay even with Portales (14-4, 2-0 District 4-3A) as the Lady Rams shot just 8-of-23 from the field.
“We were just playing to not lose,” said senior guard Kassandra Richards, who scored 10 points for Portales. “It should have been more, but it wasn’t.”
In any case, Portales took an easy win over Ruidoso, which controlled the tempo but not much else. The Lady Warriors (9-8, 0-1) made a concerted effort to take their time on possessions.
At halftime, though, all Ruidoso had to show for their efforts were 25 percent (4-of-16) shooting, six turnovers and a 14-point deficit.
“We really can’t make any mistakes (against) such a good team,” Ruidoso coach Greg Marez said. “They capitalize on stuff like that.”
Portales led by as much as 19, 39-20 after a bucket by Morgan Hill (game-high 13 points), but lost its offensive rhythm in a fourth quarter that featured 19 free throws.
“I think Ruidoso is better than they were last year,” Portales coach Brenda Gomez said. “It just seemed so slow. We shot really well (early), but we didn’t get to shoot that often.”
Portales didn’t get their usual amount of shot attempts, partly because of Ruidoso’s pressure defense. Marez’ strategy was to make Portales score nearly all of its points in a half-court game.
“Their transition game is exquisite,” Marez said. “We slowed them down a little bit, and I’m proud of that.”
For the most part, though, Marez realized that Lovington wasn’t the only team in the district to have trouble pressing the Lady Rams.
“That does help when they press us,” Gomez said, “because we can move the ball pretty quick.”
With the game well in hand, Portales went with a mix of younger players throughout the second half.
With just over two minutes remaining and Portales leading 48-29, junior Patty Terry airballed a 3-point attempt. While nine players on the court waited for the ball to go out of bounds, Portales senior Erika Cook chased down the loose ball and tipped it out off of a Ruidoso player.
The play was simply an offensive rebound for Portales, but it typified the type of effort the Lady Rams want for the entire 32 minutes.
“We aren’t playing at a higher level,” Richards said. “We play at our opponent’s level and we need to learn not to do that.”
Allison Rigsby scored 11 and Clarissa Silva added 10 for the Lady Warriors.
Portales is idle until Tuesday, when it hosts Lovington. Ruidoso will host Lovington Friday.