Freedom New Mexico
LAS VEGAS, N.M. — The Portales Rams played competitively against a bigger St. Pius squad Wednesday, but they struggled to score against the Sartans’ sagging defense and dropped a 43-33 decision in the third-place game of the Stu Clark Invitational.
Senior guard Vince Aragon foiled the Rams’ box-and-one defensive strategy, converting five of his team’s seven 3-pointers and scoring 27 points for St. Pius (4-7).
“We were in it pretty much most of the way,” Rams coach Mark Gallegos said. “They jumped on us early. We came out in kind of a junk defense (targeting senior guard Kaelan Brennan, who managed eight points), but the other one (Aragon) went off.
“The kids played hard, and I’m proud of their effort. We’re better today than we were when we went up there, and that’s why we go up there every year.”
St. Pius opened an 18-9 lead at the quarter, but Portales (3-5) closed to 24-20 at halftime.
“We’re pretty small,” Gallegos said. “When teams like St. Pius get in a zone and pack it in, we have to shoot the ball well (to be successful).”
No one reached double figures for the Rams. Senior guard Miguel Vasquez led the team with nine points, all on 3-pointers.
Portales returns to action on Tuesday at Artesia, a team it beat 55-48 in Monday’s first round of the tournament.
St. Pius 43, Portales 33
St. Pius (4-7) — Vince Aragon 27, Kaelan Brennan 8, Nick Nunez 5, Nick Ortiz 3. Totals 13 10-11 43.
Portales (3-5) — Shawn Carrasco 7, Zack Terry 2, Stephen Shields 2, Miguel Vasquez 9, Jesse Blue 5, Clay Varner 2, Garrett Hancock 6. Totals 13 3-6 33.
St. Pius 18 6 11 8 — 43
Portales 9 11 5 8 — 33
3-pointers — St. Pius, Aragon 5, Nunez, Ortiz. Portales, Vasquez 3, Blue.