LOVINGTON — The Portales Rams got a big win to start District 4-3A action Tuesday night.
Senior Jesse Blue scored seven of his game-high 14 points in the final 1 1/2 minutes, including two go-ahead free throws with 47 seconds left, to lift the Rams to a 39-38 win over rival Lovington.
Portales (13-7, 1-0 district) trailed 36-32 when Blue converted a 3-point play with 1:27 left. After the Wildcats (11-11, 1-1) missed the front end of a 1-and-1 free throw opportunity, Blue was fouled and hit a pair of free throws to give the Rams the lead.
Lovington missed a pair of shots, Blue got the rebound and was fouled and added two more freebies with 30 seconds left for a three-point lead.
Lovington’s Robert Hargrove scored to cut the margin to 39-38, then rebounded the ball after two missed Portales free throws with eight seconds left. But his last-second, desperation 25-footer was off the mark.
Lovington outscored Portales 11-4 in the second quarter to take a four-point halftime lead.
“We were pretty passive offensively in the first half,” Rams coach Mark Gallegos said. “Where they really hurt us in the first half was on the offensive boards.
“The second half, we kind of gutted it out. We competed a little better, and made some free throws down the stretch.”
Senior guard Stephen Shields added a pair of 3-pointers and 12 points for the Rams. Lovington had no one in double figures, with Jaden Swenson scoring eight points to lead the Wildcats.
Lovington girls 36, Portales 27 — Injuries caught up with the Lady Rams in the second half as Lovington pulled away after trailing 16-12 at halftime.
Portales (12-8, 0-1) was outscored 11-2 in the third quarter, and could not make up the deficit.
Lady Rams coach Clay Stout said Cynthia Armijo (concussion), Emily Roberts (hamstring) and Macy Mitchell (knee) all were injured during the second half. Stout said only Mitchell is likely not to miss some time in upcoming games.
Only four players scored for each team. Mystika Perez collected 14 points and Kenzie Black added 11 for the Lady Wildcats (17-4, 2-0), while senior Gabby Garcia had 13 points for Portales.
“Gabby got into a little bit of foul trouble (in the third quarter),” Stout said. “The third quarter really hurt us; we just couldn’t put the ball in the (basket).
“I thought we had some good looks at it, but we also had some ill-advised turnovers that led to points (for Lovington).”
Portales teams have a busy week on the road on tap, traveling to Texico for makeup non-district games on Thursday and to Ruidoso for district makeups on Saturday.