Portales senior Jonathan Garcia (22) and Grants' Jesse Baca battle for a loose ball. (CNJ staff photo: Rick White)
ALBUQUERQUE — After regulation, the game played out more like a regular season mismatch than overtime in the state tournament semifinals.
The shooting lines in overtime speak volumes.
Portales: 1-of-6 field goals and 0-of-2 free throws.
Grants: 2-of-2 and 11-of-11.
The Pirates survived two potential game-winners at the end of regulation, then dominated in overtime to beat the Rams 56-43 Friday in the Class 3A boys state tournament semifinals at The Pit.
Tied at 41 in the final minute of regulation, Portales senior Jerrod Long missed a pull-up jumper at the top of the arc.
“He got the shot we wanted,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said. “It just wasn’t meant to be.”
A jump ball was called on the rebound and the Rams maintained possession with 1.9 seconds left. On the inbounds pass, senior Chris Adkins had a good look from the corner, but shot an airball.
“We had it set up to go inside or outside,” Gallegos said. “And if they took away the inside I wanted Chris Adkins taking the shot out there.”
Long paced the Rams (16-12) with 14 points.
Grants senior Matthew Ross scored a game-high 15 points, including 10-of-10 free throws. Gilbert Montoya added 13, Joshua Grine 12 and Joseph Leyba 10 for the Pirates (24-5).
Grine picked up three fouls in the first quarter, including one on a technical, and had to watch the rest of the half from the bench. He scored 10 points in the third quarter to help erase Portales’ three-point halftime lead.
Gallegos said he would like to have gotten a bigger lead with Grine, one of the Pirates’ go-to players, on the bench.
“That will haunt me,” Gallegos said. “We let a golden opportunity slip away right there.”
Grine said he felt like he had to make up for lost time by playing well after the break.
“I made a stupid decision in the first quarter,” he said. “I felt like I let my team down, I let my town down, and that’s why I had to step it up in the third quarter.”
Grants coach Gerald Horacek said he thought riding out the first half with Grine and Ross, who picked up two fouls in the first half, on the bench was the key to the game.
“For me, it was about surviving foul trouble,” Horacek said. “For Josh to have three fouls in the first half and for Ross to pick up two in the first, what, three minutes, and just be in the ballgame at halftime is miraculous.”
Along with the missed shots, the Rams turned the ball over three times in the overtime.
“We gave up two points in overtime,” Horacek said. “Two points. What’s that a testament to? Our defense.”
The Rams tried to foul to get back into the game, but the Pirates continued to widen the lead.
“We missed a couple of open looks,” Gallegos said. “You can’t put a team like that at the line because that’s what they live on.”
Horacek said lately, free throws have been more of a weakness than a strength.
“You know what’s funny?” Horacek said. “We’ve been struggling from the line the last two games at home and against Pojoaque.”
Gallegos said he was proud of everything his team accomplished this season.
“No one gave us a chance to be here,” Gallegos said. “And you look at all the adversity we’ve had in the last couple of weeks, it’s amazing how focused these kids have been. A lot of kids couldn’t go through that.”
The Rams have played the last two weeks without senior starter Daniel Aranda, who arrested Feb. 7 on first-degree criminal sexual penetration. His mother, Ortencia Aranda, told Freedom Newspapers earlier this week that he’s innocent.
“We’ve just played like a family,” senior post Daniel Boan said. “But we’re missing someone and I wish he was here.”