Rams 55, Grants 28: The story line for this game was written early, as senior Julia Espinosa basically had her way in the paint, taking hard-to-miss short shots and, if she missed, grabbing the rebound for a putback.
By the end of the opening quarter in the Rams’ first-round game, she had 10 points, and Grants had 3.
Nine points in the second quarter gave her 19 by halftime, while the Lady Pirates had11.
Playing sparingly in the third period, with just 2 points, Espinosa still led Grants 23-15 after it ended.
With Espinosa back on the bench – not in foul trouble, but having already caused enough damage – Grants finally managed to have more points than Espinosa with about five minutes remaining in regulation, 23-21.
Surprise: Espinosa re-entered and added two field goals, but missed two free throws, in a short stint on the floor in the fourth period to take the lead again.
With 2:44 left in regulation, Grants surpassed Espinosa, who finished with a career-high 25 points. Her previous best had been a 17-point effort in a 47-33 victory over visiting Cibola in the District 1-5A tournament last season.
Makenna Lee, with 10 points, was the only other player in the contest scoring in double figures.
The Rams had too many turnovers, in coach Lori Mabrey’s eyes, and too many missed free throws – in everybody’s eyes. The Rams had 25 turnovers, while the Pirates had 28; the Rams were 9 of 31 (29 percent) at the line, while Grants nit 44 percent (11 of 25) of their charity shots.
“In all six games, we’re like 30 percent from the free throw line,” Mabrey said. “We’ve been practicing them at practice. We may have to change up some stuff and make that more urgent.”
Despite the lopsided win, Mabrey said, “I think there’s always things we can get better at. I thought we played sloppy in a lot of spurts of that game, and we have kind of consistently done that in the six games we’ve played, so we’ve got to get better in taking care of the ball.”
The Rams’ next game in their Rio Rancho Invite tips off at 1 p.m. Friday, when they’ll play the winner of Thursday afternoon’s West Mesa-Organ Mountain contest.