Sophomore Kevin Archuleta (23) finishes a fast-break Tuesday evening, upping the Rams’ lead to 26-21. he scored 20 points for the JV, then played briefly in the varsity tilt. (Herron photo)
For those basketball fans that enjoy free throw shooting, the RAC was the place to be Tuesday evening.
Oh, your host Rio Rancho Rams (4-3) beat visiting Santa Fe (3-2), 53-47, in a game that was tied only four times with neither team leading by more than six points until the final minute.
The adventures at the foul line began in the first half, when the Demons went 8 of 15, the Rams sank four of their five attempts.
Santa Fe again found itself 15 feet away from the net more often in the third period, making seven of nine to the Rams’ one of two.
The game was tied at 13 at the end of the first period, and the Rams led 26-22 at halftime – after the Demons missed four consecutive free throws in the final minute.
A 6-0 run to end the third quarter put Santa Fe up by one, 38-37, and the Demons’ lead was 42-39 when Rams senior Maddox Presser was sent to the foul line.
He sank both, and it began a 10-1 run for the hosts, who sank eight of 13 charity shots along the way, with all 10 points at the charity stripe.
A technical on the Demons didn’t help their chances for a comeback, either, as the Rams’ lone field goal was a layup by Jamal Bynum 10 seconds into the final stanza. Santa Fe also made just one field goal during the parade to the line, and managed only nine points in the final quarter.
Mikey Wood led the Rams with 12 points; he was 8 of 14 at the line.
Lukas Turner led Santa Fe with 15 points; he was 7 of 9 at the line, and fouled out with 1:07 left in the contest.
“We’re gonna make free throws,” RRHS coach Wally Salata, after told his team was 19 of 31 at the line.
“We didn’t practice Friday and Saturday. We’ve had guys sick, and you could see it out there,” he said. “Jayden Johnson had his inhaler with him.
“I think our defense – people don’t understand. We don’t have a lot of scorers, but we play really good defense,” he added. “To hold a team under 50 points? That’s our goal.”
It was his team’s first home game after six on the road.
“That’s hard, to play six games and then come and play a home game,” he said. “The guys were excited. But again, we’ve got some things to work on. We’ve won four in a road.”
Ram dunks: The varsity’s victory gave the Rams a sweep of the Demons. After the frosh won, 47-36, the junior varsity improved to 5-0 after a 63-57 victory, with Kevin Archuleta leading the way with 20 points and Jordan McNeely adding 19. Archuleta added 2 points to the varsity’s win, as well.
… The Rams are home Friday at 7 p.m. to face Carlsbad, which they beat 61-44 at the City of Champions Classic in Artesia on Dec. 2.
… The Rams are back in the RAC again Dec. 21 at 7 to face Capital High, then have three more games in December – in the Jalene Berger Allstate Holiday Hoops Classic. The hosts open the tournament the 28th at 7 p.m. vs. Socorro (Texas). Other first-round games on the 28th: Hope Christian vs. St. Pus X at 1; Rio Grande vs. Santa Fe at 3; and Española Valley vs. Sandia Prep at 5.