Senior Shawn Carrasco scored 15 points to lead the Portales Rams past New Mexico Military 44-38 in a District 4-3A tournament game on Thursday at PHS.
The win pushes the second-seeded Rams (13-12) into Saturday’s 7 p.m. championship game at Lovington, looking for a sixth consecutive title. The winner is guaranteed a first-round home game next week in the Class 3A state tournament.
Senior Zach Terry added nine points for the Rams, while the Colts (17-10) got 12 points from senior guard Nathan Moore and 10 from senior post Giles Zollar.
The Rams got off to a strong start, pressuring the Colts from the start and leading 13-9 at the end of the first quarter.
“We did a fairly good job early with the press,” PHS coach Mark Gallegos said. “The key to the game was our fullcourt pressure. We started pretty good and gave them some offensive rebounds, but the press gave us some easy baskets.”
Portales led 35-30 going into the fourth quarter, but the Colts closed to 37-36 early in the period.
Carrasco went out with an injury early in the period, but later returned.
“When we opened it up in the second half, there were a couple of times where we scored one, two or three baskets in a row,” Gallegos said. “Our goal was to hold them to 35 points, (and) they got 38. They did a good job of getting the ball to their big guy (Zollar).”
A 3-pointer by junior Jesse Blue gave Portales a 40-36 lead and some breathing room.
NMMI coach Pilar Carrasco said his team gave itself a chance to win.
“We each had 17 field goals, but they beat us on the free throw line,” Carrasco said. “It’s one of those things you’ve got to learn to handle.
“I was very pleased with my kids’ effort tonight. At times we just didn’t execute very well.”