East Mountain’s boys basketball team played very well for three quarters of last Friday’s game against the visiting Portales Rams. But the Timberwolves sputtered in one of the quarters and that was all their District 4-4A rivals needed to claim an 82-67 victory.

“It takes 32 minutes of good, smart basketball to beat a good team,” East Mountain head coach Joe Vigil said. “And we didn’t play 32 minutes of smart basketball tonight.”

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East Mountain’s Isiah Padilla going sky-high for a layup between two Portales defenders. Photo by G. Demarest.

East Mountain (7-15, 1-1 District 4-4A) locked horns with the Rams early in the game and even held a brief lead at one point. But in the second quarter the T’Wolves shot a meager 27 percent, while surrendering 29 points.

Portales (13-9, 3-0) began the stanza with an 11-0 run to claim a 16-point advantage.

East Mountain’s Kyle Roark sank a 3-pointer midway through the frame but the Rams responded with 8 unanswered points. “Coach always tells us basketball’s a game of runs, and they were running further than we were every single time,” said Roark, who finished with 9 points.

Aidan Aragon knocked down a pair of buckets for the home team, a jumper and a trey, but then the Rams outscored the T’Wolves 10-4 the rest of the quarter to go up by 22 at halftime.

“I think what happened was, we got a little lax,” Aragon said. He scored a game-high 30 points.

After the break, the T’Wolves got back to playing the way they had in the first quarter and ended up outscoring the Rams by 7 points in the entire second half.

“The guys came out with a lot more intensity,” Isiah Padilla said of the T’Wolves’ post-halftime performance. “We had keys written on the board [in the locker room], ‘confidence, focus, and aggressive mindset,’ and I think we had that in the second half.”

But it was too little, too late for the home team.

“That’s a good, strong team,” Vigil said of the Rams, who beat the T’Wolves twice last year by a combined score of 81 points. “They’ve got size, they’ve got speed, they’ve got shooters.”

Vigil emphasized that the T’Wolves are still a work in progress. “We can put three quarters together but there’s only been a few games where we’ve actually played four quarters of good basketball,” he said. “Sometimes we get a little careless and that’s ultimately what does us in.”

East Mountain played at the New Mexico Military Institute Tuesday after The Independent went to print.