One time through the district schedule and so far so good for the Portales Rams. The Portales boys basketball team completed a Round One sweep of its 4-3A opponents by easing past Dexter 63-23 on Tuesday night.
Portales (14-7, 4-0), whose closest game in the first half of the district schedule was a five-point road win at Lovington, took control immediately against the Demons at home. The biggest weapon for the host Rams wasn’t the talents of any individual player but a full-court pressing defense that forced turnovers from Dexter (6-15, 1-3) early and often.
A pair of 3-pointers by guard Nick Bliss helped get Portales off to an 11-2 start midway through the first quarter. After Dexter’s second — and last — field goal of the opening period, Portales scored nine more points, including three straight shots by Shawn Carrasco.
When Walker Partin hit a bucket to start the second quarter, the Rams held a 22-4 advantage.
At that point, Portales coach Mark Gallegos began to liberally substitute and the pace of the scoring slowed down.
“We had some lulls. It’s hard to keep your consistency in a game like that, but I thought we had some good contributions from some kids off the bench who don’t play a lot,” Gallegos said. “Junior Olivas, Andrew Villanueva, Sid Duran — those kids came in and got some time and showed they could do some things.”
Portales was led by Carrasco’s 13 points while Billy Good scored a dozen more as well as grabbing eight rebounds. The Demons’ leading scorer was Joseph Bowles with seven.
Dexter committed 22 turnovers in the first half while only managing to get off 10 shot attempts.
“They’re big and physical inside and that was my main concern, but we talked about pressuring the basketball and not allowing them to throw the ball into the post,” Gallegos said.
The visitors had only eight players in uniform and two of them, post players Nick Deutsch and Zach Fuller, both fouled out in the fourth quarter.
“Eventually, it (the press) would have had to work,” said Portales guard Jesus Davalos, who scored 10 points. “You have to have depth to handle presses like that. Players get tired and that’s something they didn’t have — that was something in our favor.”
The Rams begin the second half of their district slate with contest in Roswell with New Mexico Military Institute on Friday.
Davalos said all the 4-3A rivals were likely ready for another shot at the Rams.
“We definitely got the target on our back,” he said. “After beating them once, they don’t want to lose again.”
Girls fall in Roswell
Portales fell on the road Tuesday night, 37-29 in a non-district affair at Roswell High.
Portales coach Clay Stout said the defense played well, but turnovers at the wrong time hurt the Rams (11-9).
“They scored on some of (our) turnovers,” Stout said. “We were good in three out of four quarters of play.”
Macy Mitchell scored 13 points and Jenna Wagner finished with seven points.
— Clarence Plank, Freedom New Mexico