Atrisco Heritage Academy’s Chris Parra, right, dives for a lose ball after getting the Rams’ Jayden Johnson (34, in white) into a turnover Saturday; worse, Johnson was called for a foul. (Herron photo)
The 2022-23 boys’ basketball season ended just like the 2021-22 season ended: with the Rams missing a 3-pointer as the clock sealed their fate.
Last March, Mikey Wood’s 3-point shot glanced off the rim and the Rams fell to Carlsbad in a first-round game in the RAC.
On the evening of March 4, Jamal Bynum’s shot missed the mark, and an off-balance attempt by Jayden Johnson didn’t make anyone hold their breath as the eighth-seeded Rams (18-11) lost to a District 1-5A foe, Atrisco Heritage Academy, 48-45.
The No. 9 Jaguars (21-8), who’d lost to the Rams in a district tournament game in the RAC10 nights earlier, looked poised early and on their way to the quarterfinals at The Pit this week.
AHA used an 11-0 run in the first half to pull away from a 9-7 deficit and closed out the first half on a 7-0 run for a 28-16 lead at halftime.
The Jags’ lead was seven, 37-30, after the third period ended.
Then, the Rams caught fire, benefitting by Jaguars’ misses from 3-point range.
Mikey Wood sank a pair of free throws; Johnson scored on a layup; Josiah Marfil scored on a layup and was fouled. He made the free throw and the game was tied.
The Rams took a timeout with 5:33 to go, and AHA’s Chris Parra missed a 3, with the Rams getting the rebound – and assistant coach Dalon Bynum shouting, “Relax!”
Maybe they did, but a Johnson turnover led to a 5-0 AHA run and the Rams couldn’t tie it or take the lead after that.
Down 47-41 in the final minute, Johnson connected on an 8-footer for 47-43. After Parra missed the front end of a one-and-one, the Rams got the rebound and Johnson nailed another 8-footer.
It was 47-45, and with 11.4 seconds to go, Parra was back at the foul line, missing his first but making the second, for 48-45.
That led to the Bynum miss, with the ball going out of bounds to the Rams. Wood inbounded the ball to Johnson, who rarely sinks 3s and this wasn’t an exception.
“Our defense was good enough to win the game,” RRHS coach Wally Salata said. “We can’t score 16 points in a half (which the Rams did in the first half). … When we don’t shoot well from the outside, it’s very hard to beat anybody because they pack it in. They played the zone the whole game, and then (our big guy) Maddox (Presser) fouled out.
“The effort was there; they made one more play,” he said. “What you want is a chance. We had the ball, down three – we set up a play to hit the 3. Jamal took a tough 3.”
Salata wasn’t as dismayed as one might think.
“One game doesn’t define our season,” he said. “I think, overall, we had a great season: 18 wins, finished third in a tough district. We played 11 straight district games, (and) it’s hard to come out ever single game and grind, like we did.”
Johnson led the Rams with 18 points, 16 of them after halftime.
Parra, who missed most of the season, led AHA with 17 points,
The Jaguars outscored the Rams 17-9 from the foul line, and 15-0 from behind the arc.