TUCUMCARI — Marcus Slocum scored 18 points, pushing the Portales Rams past Tucumcari 61-44 Monday night at the Snake Pit.
Slocum scored nine points in each half, including an 8-for-10 effort at the line, leading three Rams in double figures to put the Rams over .500 before heading into this weekend’s Hope Christian Invitational.
“We did not have an answer for Slocum,” Rattlers head coach John Span said after the game. “He is a great athlete and played great tonight. I am proud of the boys; they played hard tonight.”
At three different points, Portales led the Rattlers (4-7) and each time had to fight off Tucumcari challenges.
“They kept fighting back no matter how much they were down,” Slocum said. “One of our problems has been playing steady defense, and that helped them stay in the game.”
Nobody reached double figures, but nine players scored for Tucumcari, led by Jakus Martinez’ eight.
“We could not contain them from the beginning,” Portales coach Mark Gallegos said. “We could not put a defensive series together to stop their offense until the final period.”
Span felt the Rattlers’ sealed their fate by not taking care of the ball.
“We need to take care of the ball,” Span said. “We had some crucial turnovers in the final period that could have lead to points for us.”
Nick Bliss scored 12 points, and Jesus Davalos added 11 for the Rams.
Curtis Simpson chipped in seven, and Andrew Francis had six for the Rattlers.
“The one thing to remember when coming to play Tucumcari is that coach Span is going to have his kids ready to play,” Gallegos said. “His team is so well prepared and it showed out there on the court when they kept us from running away with it.”
Tucucmari hosts Elida Thursday. Span said that the loss will benefit the Rattlers in the long run.
“Portales is a tough 3A school; they are in the state tournament year after year,” Span said. “Even if you lose, you have the opportunity to take something good out of it that will help to make you a stronger team.”
Portales (7-6) faces Mora on Thursday.