ALBUQUERQUE — Portales failed to get its offense in sync until it was too late as Shiprock used near-perfect free throw shooting to hold off the Lady Rams 35-33 Thursday in a Class 3A girls state semifinal game at The Pit.
Junior Macy Mitchell scored 19 points for the second-seeded Lady Rams (18-10), who were looking to reach their ninth state title game appearance in 11 years.
Portales won four state titles from 2001 to 2006.
Samantha Peters scored 11 points and freshman Ashley John finished with nine points for the sixth-seeded Lady Chieftains (22-7), who made 15-of-16 free throws.
“We just seemed to be out of sync on offense,” Portales coach Clay Stout said. “We just never seemed to get in a flow.”
Stout said it didn’t help that Portales committed 14 turnovers in the first half.
The game was a low-scoring affair for three quarters, with Shiprock leading 11-7 at halftime and 20-15 heading into the fourth quarter.
The pace picked up in the final eight minutes with Shiprock’s lead bouncing back-and-forth between five and seven points. Three throws by John and two more by Ashley Daily pushed the lead to 33-23 with about three minutes to go before Portales made a final charge.
Mitchell had five free throws and Jenna Sievers converted a steal into a layup as the Lady Rams pulled to 33-30 with under 30 seconds to go. But Dailey hit a pair of free throws to make it a two-possession game and Shiprock held on for the win.
“We tried to trap them in the corners and put a little pressure on them,” Stout said. “We had to try and do something to try and get more possessions.”
Shiprock made 11-of-12 free throws in the fourth quarter.
“I’m really proud of the girls,” Stout said. “I never saw that look of defeat in their eyes. They kept trying to find a way to win.
“You’ve got to love that.”
Gabby Garcia was the only senior on the team.