The No. 2 seed Portales Lady Rams steamrolled No. 15 Socorro on Friday night at Ram Athletic Center as they held the Warriors to just seven points in the first half and took a 48-22 victory.
“I felt like these kids were ready to come out and play and they really did” Portales coach Clay Stout said. “I feel like the momentum has shifted for us.”
Portales (17-9) advances to the quarterfinal round of the state tournament against the Ruidoso, a 67-55 winner over Toas. That quarterfinal game will be at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday in The Pit in Albuquerque.
Junior Macy Mitchell led the team with 18 points Gabby Garcia came away with 16 on the night as she sparked her team on both ends of the court.
“She had a good all-around night, and she’s got an even better one in her,” Stout said of Garcia.
Garcia stole a pass and drove the length of the court with 1:22 left in the first quarter to put Portales up 10-2. She hit four more from the floor and one from the charity stripe in the first three minutes of the second to make it 21-2 and the Lady Rams went up 26-7 at the half.
The effects of a long bus ride wore off the Warriors (10-18) during the intermission, and Socorro began to press and put points on the board at the start of the second half. Warrior sophomore Theresa Chavez rocked home a trey to start things and senior Jaden Jones followed with a steal and a layup before Portales could get untracked.
After a Portales timeout, the Lady Rams began to break the press and after junior Jenna Sievers converted a three-point play, Mitchell and Garcia combined for three more baskets to give Portales a 20-point lead.
Stout said his team wasn’t making the right cuts against the press and things began to fall apart until he took the timeout.
“I was proud of them. They calmed right down,” Stout said. “People were where they were supposed to be and that makes all the difference.”
Following the game the team surprised Garcia, the team’s sole senior, with roses and the tough hustling guard managed to make a mess of the mascara before the midcourt celebration was over.
“It was bittersweet,” Garcia said of her last game in the RAC. “I had an excitement going through me and at the same time a little bit of sadness. It’s all good though.”
Garcia said her team has tight bonds and she feels they’re prepared for the state tournament.
“There’s no drama whatsoever. We’re like sisters and now as it gets down to the end we know we’ve got to pull together even more,” she said. “If we do that we can go all the way.”