If nothing else, the Texico Wolverines are getting used to last-second finishes.
Playing their third one-point game in five nights, this time the ball bounced against the Wolverines, who won a pair of District 4-2A one-pointers over the weekend.
Portales senior Emilio Baca grabbed a loose ball in the lane at the end of a mad scramble and put in about a 10-foot shot with roughly four seconds left and the Rams escaped with a 55-54 win over the Wolverines, the third consecutive time PHS has edged Texico in the closing seconds.
“It’s getting a little bit old,” said Wolverines coach Ty Thatcher said. “But I thought the kids played well enough to deserve a win. The ball just didn’t fall in our hands at the end.”
In the first half of the doubleheader, the Portales girls pulled away in the second half to beat Texico 28-19.
Texico junior Miguel Reyna, held about 15 points under his average with six points, nearly pulled out the win for Texico (13-7) when he stole the ball near midcourt and went in uncontested for a 54-53 lead with about 30 seconds left. Portales (12-8) had a couple of shots in the closing seconds, but in the scramble at the end the ball was tipped to Baca, who made the game-winner.
“Emilio has really improved his mid-range shooting over the year; that’s a shot he can make,” Rams coach Rickie McBroom said. “That’s where the heart comes in. We had kids trying to tip the ball to keep it alive.
“Our kids just keep playing hard and never give up. When (Texico) went man-to-man against us in the fourth quarter, our kids really executed well when we needed to.”
Senior Reyes Calbert, who beat the Wolverines in Texico with a last-second 3-pointer a couple of weeks ago, finished with 11 points for the Rams while Baca and junior Zach Campbell added 10 apiece.
Junior Kevin Naceanceno scored 12 points for Texico, while sophomore Justin Rucker added 11 off the bench.
“We knew they were going to focus on Miguel, so we had to have some kids step up,” Thatcher said. “I thought Rucker and Kendall really stepped up a notch.”
The Wolverines had just seven turnovers in the game, but missed opportunities to extend the lead they held most of the second half at the free-throw line, where they were just 5-of-14 through three quarters and 10-of-21 overall.
Trailing 10-8 at halftime, Portales took control of the girls game with an 11-5 edge in the third quarter. Senior Hannah Cissell scored six of her eight points in that period for the Lady Rams (15-6), while freshman Sheraya Cox had all eight of hers in the second half.
“Sometimes you have games like that, and you just have to grind it out,” PHS coach Clay Stout said. “I thought we were a little too passive in the first half and we weren’t looking for opportunities, but the second half we played much more aggressive.”
Texico (13-7), limited to seven field goals in the contest, got seven points from Rae Lynn Prather.
“We got a limited number of looks at the basket, and we didn’t take advantage of the ones we had,” Texico coach Richard Luscombe said. “They present some tough matchups, and Clay does a good job of getting them in positions where you’re going to have to play good defense.”