Portales overcame one major obstacle Thursday morning at the Pit.
An even bigger one awaits today.
The third-seeded Rams defeated district rival Lovington in the fifth meeting this season between the two teams. Portales’ reward is a championship game matchup with top-seeded and unbeaten Shiprock, which rolled over No. 4 Hope Christian.
No. 3 PORTALES 54, No. 2 LOVINGTON 46: There will be a new 3A champ as the Rams ousted the two-time defending champion Wildcats.
Sophomore Kambrey Blakey scored 27 points as Portales (24-5) ended a three-game losing streak against District 4-3A rival Lovington (24-5).
“It feels good,” Rams coach Wade Fraze said. “Lovington, they’re a good team. I told the girls I feel like they’re better than they have been the last two years. They played a much tougher schedule and had a much better record.”
The Rams held a 23-21 lead at halftime and the game stayed close until midway through the third quarter. Portales then went on a 12-2 run to close the period, going up 40-28.
The Wildcats staged one final, furious rally to pull within 52-46, but it was not enough as time ran out.
“These girls, they played hard (today),” Lovington coach Jason Parrish said. “Most teams that are down like that they start shutting down with about 2 minutes left. These girls didn’t shut down until it said zero up there.”
No. 1 SHIPROCK 63, No. 4 HOPE CHRISTIAN 36: The Lady Chieftains were too much on both ends of the court for the young Huskies.
Hope (22-8) had just one senior on its roster, while unbeaten Shiprock (29-0) had five.
The Huskies lost to the Lady Chieftains 51-35 on Jan. 18 and did not make any adjustments from that game, Shiprock coach Larenson Henderson said.
“Surprisingly, no,” he said. “I saw that when we scouted their (quarterfinal) game against West Las Vegas. The guards were still making the same passes. I told the girls, ‘I think they haven’t made adjustments, let’s see what they do.’ ”
The Lady Chieftains took control early, going up 14-6 in the first period. It was 32-19 by halftime, and the Huskies never got within less than 12 points in the second half.
Ten different Shiprock players scored in the game, with Shania Harry leading the way with 11 points and fellow senior Taylor Henderson adding 10.
“They go 10 deep, just a solid, solid team,” Hope coach Terry Heisey said. “Just all-around they’re too good.”