By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
It was a playoff atmosphere Tuesday night, with the visiting Mules trading baskets all night with the host Portales Rams. Come Thursday, it will feel like a playoff series.
Trevor Turnbow scored a game-high 13 points and hit a go-ahead baseline jumper with 1:13 to play and Muleshoe grabbed its first win of the season, 37-34.
The teams will play again Thursday, as they are bracketed against each other in a 1 p.m. (MST) game at the Shallowater (Texas) Shootout.
“We were patient (tonight) and didn’t panic down the stretch,” Mule coach Ralph Mason said. “We had some kids step up and make some shots.”
In a game that featured 12 lead changes, Turnbow’s shot was the biggest. After a Daniel Aranda layup put Portales (0-1) up 33-32, Turnbow faked a 3-pointer — a believable fake, as the Mules attempted 12 on the evening — and drove down the right baseline before pulling up over a pair of Ram defenders. Portales failed to convert on late opportunities, missing four of five free throws in the final 40 seconds of the game.
The last miss, an intentional carom by Cruz Ontiveros in a 36-34 game, was rebounded by Tyler Sheets and Turnbow hit one of two free throws to seal the victory.
Portales coach Mark Gallegos said that the team got the looks it wanted, but failed to convert — possibly because it just wasn’t ready for those moments.
“As a young team, they’ve got to realize that practice carries over,” Gallegos said. “Hopefully we learned that tonight and we grew up a little bit.
“We’ll be pretty good when all is said and done.”
Neither team could pull away, with a four-point lead the highest for both squads all night. Portales led by four after Josh Gonzales scored on a layup with 6:05 left, but Muleshoe regained the lead with a driving layup by Garrett Riley and a 3-point play by Brant Hamilton.
Ontiveros and Daniel Aranda each had 11 to lead Portales. Hamilton added nine for the Mules.
In the junior varsity game, Portales defeated Muleshoe 61-30.