Portales senior Ethan Tucker goes up for two points against Carlsbad on Friday night at PHS. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullock)
By Mickey Winfield: Freedom Newspapers
The Portales Rams missed their shots, and the Carlsbad Cavemen made theirs. Put together, the two facts resulted in a 62-36 blowout Friday night at Portales High School.
Travis Nygren scored a game-high 13 and Jose Cruz Lopez added nine points for the Cavemen, who never trailed.
Senior Skyler Partin led the Rams (2-2) with 12 points while Chance Sherburne added nine and Hunter Rackler contributed 7.
“We don’t have any excuses, they just beat us,” Partan said. “We couldn’t make anything, free throws or shots right under the basket.”
Two 3-pointers and a steal from point guard Zack Mendez, another 3 from Joseph Jenkins and a layup from Brian Barnes powered Carlsbad to an early 11-0 first-quarter lead.
“I didn’t think we handled adversity tonight,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said. “We didn’t do anything with any confidence.”
However, Gallegos was impressed by how his players responded after the opening lapse.
“I was pleased in the first half, how we kept it close early on, and we didn’t panic when we got down,” Gallegos said.
Carlsbad went into the second quarter with a 15-7 lead, before outscoring the Rams 18-10 in the second quarter to take a 33-17 half-time lead.
“We really didn’t panic that much at all,” senior Cruz Ontiveros said. “But when you go down 11-0 on a good 5A team it’s kind of hard to come back on that kind of team.”
Carlsbad’s Chance Neatherlin hit a jump shot to midway through the third quarter to give Carlsbad a 40-21 lead, and the Cavemen outscored Portales 11-6 in the third period to head into the final stanza with a 44-23 lead.
“We really didn’t come out ready to play tonight, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll pick it up,” Ontiveros said.
The Portales boys (2-2) don’t have long to dwell on Friday night’s game, as they host the Aztec Tigers at 2 p.m. today. The Tigers are coming off an even bigger loss, 63-25 against Clovis.
“The nice part is you get to forget about tonight and get back on the floor,” Gallegos said. “And it’ll tell a lot about our character, it’ll tell a lot about our mental toughness and tell us where we’re at.
“We’ve got to overcome some adversity so why not now, early in the year.”