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Ruidoso opens tourney with win

By Todd Fuqua

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso's Ezra Anderson, center, maneuvers between New Mexico Military Institute defenders Andres Aranda (13) and Jake Guerrero, Feb. 20, at Ruidoso High School.

RUIDOSO – True, this was a game the Ruidoso Warriors were supposed to win, but New Mexico Military Institute didn’t have anything to lose.

Photo by Todd Fuqua New Mexico Military Institute’s Andres Aranda, center, comes up with the rebound between Ruidoso Warriors Josiah Polendo (10) and Josh Romero, Feb. 20, during the first round of the District 4-4A tournament at Ruidoso High.

It was the District 4-4A tournament, after all, and a loss meant the season was over.

That’s why the Colts had a narrow lead in the second quarter, Feb. 20, before Ruidoso was able to turn on the jets and get an eventual 71-43 victory.

“They came out to play, they had nothing to lose,” said Ruidoso coach Billy Page. “In that first half, we played a little tight and made some poor decisions offensively.”

Ruidoso’s lead wasn’t that big to begin with in the first quarter, although the Warriors (13-14) went up by nine on three straight 3-pointers at the very end of the first quarter.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso’s Randall Poorthunder, right, puts up a shot as NMMI’s David Elias puts a hand in his face, Feb. 20, during the first round of the District 4-4A tournament. Poorthunder led the Warriors to victory with 29 points.

Two of those treys were by Randall Poorthunder, who led the team with 29 points.

“I had to step up,” Poorthunder said. “I’d been shooting yesterday a lot in practice, because my shot hadn’t been like it was the past couple of years. I finally got it back and felt like I could shoot a lot better.”

“Randall probably had his best game to date,” Page said. “He took control as a senior, and I really appreciate that.

“You might look and see that he hadn’t been scoring, but he also leads the team in assists,” he added. “That’s not something that people see much, but he’s been working on his game, and tonight he took over. That’s what I’ve been waiting for him to do.”

The last trey of the first quarter came from Austin Mowell, who had a pair of threes and a layup for eight points. His contribution may have seemed small, but he was one of several Warriors that came through on Monday night.

“Austin had a huge game for us, coming in of the bench,” Page said. “He plays rarely, but he’s capable.”

All that scoring was needed when forward/center Josh Romero had four fouls before halftime, and had to be used sparingly the rest of the way.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso’s Austin Mowell, right, puts up a three as NMMI’s Dillon Reynolds defends, Feb. 20, at Ruidoso High School.

He eventually fouled out with 10 points.

Among those also answering the call was Loren Mendez, who put in 14 points, including a flurry of threes in the final quarter.

“He didn’t have but one or two touches in the first half,” Page said of Mendez. “They knew he could shoot the ball, but then the kid that was chasing him got into foul trouble nad sat down. That allowed us to get Loren the ball, and he knocked them down.”

Fausto Baranzini and Dillon Reynolds had 14 points each to lead the Colts (2-20).

Now the Warriors travel to Moriarty tonight for the second round. The Pintos are a team Ruidoso can beat, they just haven’t been able to put together the right combination.

“We match up well with them, we’ve proven it here,” Page said. “We were up for most of the game at their place, then gave up some shots at the end of the first half.”

Ruidoso had to foul and hope the Pintos missed their free throws down the stretch in that game. Page is hoping it doesn’t come down to that tonight.

“We need to get the lead, hold the ball, have a good possession and get good shots,” Page said. “But we have to have a lead before we can even think of doing that.”

Poorthunder concurred.

“We just had a few mistakes there, and didn’t really get along last time we played them,” Poorthunder said. “Hopefully this next time we can win. We know how to beat them.”

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