RIO RANCHO — The Portales Rams’ bid to reach the state quarterfinals fizzled in the final three minutes.
After the Rams and Sandia Prep traded the lead back-and-forth for the first 29 minutes, the Sundevils scored the game’s final 13 points and beat Portales 52-41 Wednesday in a Class 3A state quarterfinal game at the Santa Ana Star Center.
Miguel Vasquez scored 13 points and Jesse Blue added eight points the senior-laden Rams (18-10).
“That’s the hard part about losing this game,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said. “This is a great bunch of kids. They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do.”
The seventh-seeded Rams will graduate 10 seniors.
Kody Salcido, a 6-6 senior, had 22 points and 15 rebounds and Harry Hampden-Smith added 11 points for the third-seeded Sundevils (21-9), who led 27-23 at halftime.
The pair also led the Sundevils to a 30-18 rebounding advantage.
Portales led 41-39 with three minutes to go, but went three straight possession without getting a shot and gave up the lead. Meanwhile, Sandia Prep made its free throws when it counted (9-of-13 in the fourth quarter).
“It was tough. We had three empty possessions,” Gallegos said. “We were still getting good looks, we just couldn’t knock them down.”
Vasquez scored nine of his points in the first half to keep Portales close. Stephen Shields’ 3-pointer midway through the second quarter tied the game at 18.
“They were playing man and (Vasquez) was able to hurt them with dribble penetration,” Gallegos said.