By Kevin Wilson: Freedom Newspapers
With another contest about 20 hours away, Portales’ first unit did more than enough Friday night to save energy for Saturday.
Morgan Hill had 18 points and Briana Hernandez 16 in three quarters, and Portales rode an early 14-2 start to come away with a 54-39 victory over Kirtland Central.
Portales (9-5) never trailed and led by as much as 25 in the fourth quarter before the visiting Broncos (4-10) came back against the Portales bench.
Portales plays tonight in a 6 p.m. game against Los Alamos.
For the night, Portales shot 49 percent (19-of-39), but got shots when it needed them with Hernandez hitting from the 3-point line and Hill getting shots off of inside positioning and offensive rebounds.
“That’s been the story all year,” Kirtland Central coach Mike Christie said. “Our defense hasn’t been at the level we’ve needed and most teams have shot a high percentage against us.”
That was the case early for Portales, when it hit six of its 10 first-quarter shots, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Tara Johnson for a 17-4 lead.
Hernandez hit a pair of treys in the second quarter, and a layup by Johnson pushed the Portales lead to 20 late in the second quarter.
Portales coach Brenda Gomez said she is generally surprised to see Hernandez’ high point totals sometimes because she gets the points within the flow of the offense.
“It’s hard (to keep Hernandez in check) when you’ve got Megan (Kabrick), Bethany (Self) and Morgan inside,” Gomez said. “But it’s not like she just hangs out on the 3(-point line). She moves around and gets rebounds.
“Sometimes I tell her to shoot or sit on the bench. Some people might think she’s playing selfishly, but that’s not the case. I push her to play that way.”
That’s the same approach Christie is taking — telling his players to take shots when they have them — but he admits that nights like Friday’s 14-of-39 can make things frustrating on both ends of the floor.
“I think if we shoot the ball a little bet better, we’ll see the defensive intensity rise,” Christie said. “I can’t say we’re taking bad shots. We’ve got good shooters, but the shots just haven’t fallen. We’re young and we don’t know how to play four quarters yet.”
The Broncos are back in action this afternoon against Hobbs.