FRIONA — It was anything but pretty, but for the Portales Lady Rams it at least went in the win column.
Portales led from late in the first quarter to the end, but had to hang on late to edge Friona 29-28 in the Lady Rams’ season opener on Saturday. Senior guard Ashley Hernandez preserved the win by making a steal with about five seconds left.
“They shot the ball well early, and we got behind,” PHS coach Clay Stout said. “We got about a six-point lead (early in the fourth quarter), and then I think fatigue set in. We’re not quite in basketball shape yet.”
Most of Portales’ players are just coming off a state volleyball run which ended in a second-place finish a t Rio Rancho on Nov. 15. The team had only four days to practice as a group for the opener.
“The girls played extremely good defense,” Stout said. “We were a little inconsistent on offense, which is understandable with only four practices.
“But I was proud because the kids played hard. We just didn’t shoot the ball very well.”
After building a relatively comfortable lead early in the fourth quarter, the Lady Rams struggled to finish it off. The Squaws (2-1) had possession of the ball with about 20 seconds left with a chance to win.
“We had a couple of fouls to give at that point, so we played aggressively,” Stout said.
The margin could have been larger, he said, but the Lady Rams had a hard time at the free throw line.
“We just couldn’t knock our free throws down, and they kept chipping away,” Stout said.
Senior center Jenna Wagner led the Lady Rams in scoring and rebounding in the contest, but actual stats were not available on Saturday night.
Portales returns to action in two weeks on Dec. 5 when it hosts Hobbs in a 7 p.m. start.