PNT Staff Report
LAS VEGAS, NM — The Portales Rams took it all the way into the final seconds with a tough 5-A opponent Wednesday and came up one shot short. They fell in the opening round of the Stu Clark Invitational Tournament to Santa Fe High School by a score of 53-52.
Portales never gave the Demons the opportunity to get into their spread offense and even had a lead late in the game, but a key turnover and missed offensive opportunities prevented the Rams from shutting the door on the Demons.
After the loss, Portales is set to play the loser between Taos and West Las Vegas at 1 p.m. today.
With Portales leading by four with under a minute to play, the Demons got a steal and a quick bucket to close the gap. A missed Ram shot attempt gave the ball back to Santa Fe and they grabbed a one-point lead with four seconds remaining.
Portales got the ball to the time line but had it knocked out of bounds at mid-court. The inbounds pass and screen setup to Daniel Boan worked perfectly but the Ram shooter stumbled as the clock wound down.
“We went into a defensive lapse at the end of the third,” Ram coach Mark Gallegos said. “The kids fought hard, they brought it all the way back.”
Jerod Long got the key play early in the fourth that gave the Rams their lead as he converted what was in-effect a six-point play. He got a steal and a layup that frustrated the Santa Fe defender enough to give him an intentional foul.
With the basket good and the two free-throws cashed-in, the Rams got the ball on the inbounds play for a quick basket to take the lead.
“I was happy with the way we scrapped back,” Gallegos said. “But I’m still not happy with our defensive lapses. I don’t want to accept that we gave away 53 points to Santa Fe High.
“I’d like to have a consistent defensive game from start to finish,” the coach added.
Long and Daniel Aranda led the Ram offensive effort with 10 points each. Boan was close behind with nine points.
For Santa Fe, Dominic Betten had 12 and Abel Lovato connected for 11.