By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
Saturday was not a good day to be a Ram.
Taos senior guard Joe Montoya scored 17 of his game best 23 points in the second half as the Tigers defeated the Rams 52-43 in Portales’ final game of the Ram Basketball Shootout.
To add injury to insult, the Portales boys also learned that they’ll likely be without senior post Hunter Rackler for the remainder of the season with a knee injury suffered Friday night.
“That’s a humongous loss,” Gallegos said. “He was really starting to come on. But in the same respect we talked about people like Erett Grubbs and Jake Bonner and some of those kids have got to step up and be ready to play, that’s the way it always is. It’s our job to get the kids ready to play.”
Portales seniors Cruz Ontiveros and Chance Sherburne led the Rams with 18 points and 15 points, respectively, but the Portales defense could not come up with an answer for Montoya.
“We could have gone out and chased him a little bit,” Gallegos said. “But the way the game lent to them spreading us out then we got a problem in that situation. It dictated us having to play man defense and we didn’t do a good job with that.”
Former Portales assistant coach and current Taos head coach Richard Apodaca had high praise for his senior.
“Joe’s our on-the-court coach,” Apodaca said. “He handles the ball about 90 percent of the time and he’s just really starting to understand what it takes for us to win, and that’s important for a coach to have a player that really gets it.”
Taos and Portales met in the consolation championship of the Stu Clark tournament in Las Vegas last month, but Portales won that game.
“The difference was getting behind,” Gallegos said. “People know us, and if people watch us play, they get a beat on us. We can’t play from behind. We’ve yet to put four quarters together. Even the games we’ve won, we still haven’t put four quarters together. But it’s going to happen.”
Taos too is still looking for things to gel.
“We’re finally starting to grow up a little bit,” Apodaca said about his Tigers. “My guards are playing better, we’re finishing games better. We’re just a lot more patient.”
The Rams (6-5) travel to the Hope Christian tournament in Albuquerque on January 11.