The Portales Lady Rams overcame a slow offensive start Friday to defeat Las Vegas Robertson 43-24 in the opening round of the Class 3A state tournament at the PHS gym.
Portales coach Clay Stout credited Robertson (11-16) for the Lady Rams’ problems in the first half, in which the lead swapped several times before senior Ashley Hernandez hit the first of three treys on the night to give Portales a 14-9 lead, en route to a 14-11 halftime score.
“They’ve got a really good ballclub and they’re hard to defend,” Stout said. “In that first half, we weren’t getting familiar with where holes were offensively.”
While the first half was all about defense, the second half saw the top-seeded Lady Rams rip the nets early and then patiently and methodically put the Lady Cardinals away.
Lady Rams sophomore Macy Mitchell started things off by grabbing her own miss and putting in a layup. Hernandez hit her second 3-pointer to make it an eight-point lead, then freshman Jenna Sievers rattled in a trey of her own from the corner to make it 24-13.
“I thought we played a tremendous first half,” Robertson coach Aunna Bradley said. “They hit some 3s there and we started having to play catch-up. I knew that would be trouble because they protect the ball so well and manage the clock.”
While the third quarter for the Lady Rams was all about securing the lead, the fourth period saw them protecting it in stellar fashion with a patient offense that took advantage both inside and from the perimeter. Portales also knocked down 11-of-13 free throws in the contest, with Garcia hitting six straight in the last two minutes.
“I thought the kids played with a lot of poise down the stretch,” Stout said. “They got some big offensive rebounds and that was outstanding.”
Garcia led all scorers with 14 points while Mitchell had 10.
For Robertson, Karlee Bradley, Eliana Herrera and Kassandra Tapia each scored five points.
Portales moves on to The Pit in Albuquerque, where it will take on ninth seed St. Michael’s in an 8 a.m. Tuesday contest.