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Promising start leads to disappointing end

By Todd Fuqua

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso's Juan Aguilar takes the ball into Portales territory, Jan. 23, during the Warriors' District 4-4A loss, Jan. 23.

RUIDOSO – Tuesday’s boys basketball game against District 4-4A rival Portales was already high enough drama before the second half.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso’s Brady Mendez gets above the crowd as he passes inside, Jan. 23, during his team’s District 4-4A game against Portales.

But things came crashing down for the Warriors, as a solid performance in the first two quarters gave way to a stunning loss.

The boys’ game was even more frustrating, as Ruidoso had as much as a 12-point lead before fouls – and a particularly badly-timed technical – contributed to a 56-53 Ram victory.

Ruidoso (12-7, 1-1 District 4-4A) seemed to have everything under control through three quarters, although the number of fouls called against the Warriors seemed to be out of proportion to those called against the Rams.

Page said he didn’t mind most of those fouls, as they came from being intense on defense.

“We weren’t getting the calls I thought we should be getting, but if we foul we foul. We’re good at that,” Page said. “We’re doing what we do, we box out, we go hard, we dive for loose balls, and you’re going to pick up fouls that way.”

But soon, those fouls started catching up, and Portales (10-8, 1-1) was making its free throws.

The Rams were 8-of-13 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, while Ruidoso shot just four free throws in the entire game.

Sebastian Polendo did his best to keep the team in it, putting up 16 points before fouling out with 1:34 left in the game, while Josh Romero added 14 points and Josiah Polendo had 10.

Portales, meanwhile, got 17 points from Rico Diaz – most of that in the second half – while Braden Bridges had 14 points and Tyrese Dawson put in 11 points. Dawson also had two very crucial free throws on the fourth-quarter technical.

Photo by Todd Fuqua Ruidoso’s Sebastian Polendo shoots from the outside during his team’s District 4-4A match against Portales, Jan. 23. Polendo had 16 points to lead his team before fouling out.

That came about after Juan Aguilar was called for a charging foul – his fifth and final foul of the game – and the Warrior players, coaches and fans showed their displeasure.

Officially, Josiah Polendo was given the technical – this came after his father had been ejected from the game – but Page took the blame for it.

“I lost my cool there at the end, and that technical may have cost us the game,” Page said. “I take 100 percent of the blame for this loss. They played with heart and everything they had, and that’s all I ask for.”

Dawson’s foul shots after the technical gave Portales a 52-50 lead and the ball with 1:19 left, and the Rams merely needed to play keepaway and force Ruidoso to foul to stop the clock.

However, time actually worked against Portales, as they turned the ball over with 50 seconds left on the five-second rule.

Unfortunately, Romero’s shot at the other end fell short, and Brady Mendez had to foul Dawson to stop the clock.

After a few more fouls and free throws, Gabriel Dorame was able to hit a three at the buzzer, but it was just not enough.

So how does a team bounce back from such a loss?

“It’s a game at home, and it hurts,” Page said. “But we have a lot of basketball left, and I told them in the locker room, ‘we have to get over this one right now and start focusing on Hope.’”

Hope Christian is indeed Ruidoso’s next opponent, this Saturday, Jan. 27.

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