When your shots aren’t falling, that’s what your team eventually does: fall.
And that’s what happened Thursday evening in the RAC, where the Rio Rancho High School boys basketball team lost its District 1-5A opener to visiting Atrisco Heritage Academy, 57-48.
“Our shooting was horrific tonight — I’m gonna use that word — because we could not buy a bucket,” Rams coach Wally Salata said. “We gave up 57 points, which isn’t bad, but we have got to be able to score.
“It’s disappointing because it’s a home game, it’s the first district game,” he added. “They played harder than us — a lot, I thought. They were able to get easy shots in the first half; they had five 3s in the first half. I don’t know if they had any (they didn’t) in the second half.”
The Rams (11-6, 0-1) entered the contest having won nine of their last 10 games, so nine of 11 isn’t shabby as the tough district slate gets underway, and Salata understands they’re not going to go undefeated in 1-5A.
“These are high school kids. They’re gonna have bad nights, but we just can’t everybody have a bad night at the same time,” he said, worried a bit about his players’ mental focus.
“There were times on the bench when I had guys checking in and they forget who I told them to check in for,” he added. “To me, mentally, we weren’t there.”
The Rams led early, 11-6, but lost the lead and never got it back after a 16-2 run by the Jaguars (14-2, 1-0) midway through the first half, which ended with the Rams trailed by double-digits, 30-16. RRHS managed just 3 points — a bucket “and one” from Keagan Caton — in the second quarter, when the Rams missed their last five or six shots.
“The second quarter is when we lost the game,” Salata lamented. “We scored 3 points in the second quarter. I don’t care who we’re playing — you can’t score 3 and then play catch-up the rest of the way.”
The Jaguars led, 41-26, at the end of the third quarter, and were mildly threatened by the Rams’ 11-3 burst to open the fourth quarter, which made it a 44-37 contest.
Guess what? The Jaguars kept getting fouled and made their free throws to go ahead by 13 with 3:09 to go — and the Rams couldn’t get closer than eight in the time that remained.
Caton led the Rams with 13 points and Jayden Johnson, who incurred a leg injury late in the game, had 12. Former Lincoln Middle School student Latavious Morris — only a freshman — scored 15 points for the Jaguars and was among three AHA players in double figures.
“We’re a good team, we just fell flat tonight,” Salata added, looking ahead to a part of games this week.
“I don’t care what Cibola’s record is, we better come ready to play,” Salata said of his team’s Tuesday game at Cibola (6-10), a 62-41 loser to Volcano Vista on Thursday. (Tipoff is 7 p.m.)
It doesn’t get any easier Thursday, when the Rams play at undefeated Volcano Vista, also at 7 p.m.
NOTE: Fans will not be allowed into games played at APS schools through the first week in February.

Rams 74, Roswell 43: The long trip to Roswell on Jan. 14 was worth it for the Rams, who won for the ninth time in 10 tries.
A pair of 22-point quarters in the first half helped the visitors open a 44-23 halftime lead, and – pleasing coach Salata – the Rams also won the third (17-12) and fourth (13-8) quarters, finishing with their most points in a game this season.
Caton, back on the court after missing the Jan. 11 win over Belen with illness, led the way with 25 points. Johnson added 13, Presser had 11 and Bynum joined them in double figures with 10 — the first time this season RRHS had four players in double figures.

AHA’s Colby Wade snags a rebound from a missed shot by the Rams before Jeremiah Archuleta (21) and Jamal Bynum (30) can grab it for RRHS Thursday evening in the RAC.