Rams hope for first win in Artesia

By Gary Herron

Sports editor

Some reward, eh?

Your team drops its first two games in Texas, where the teams got a head start on hoop season.

Then, your next three games are on the road again, leading off with perennial powerhouse Hobbs, in Artesia Thursday

Rio Rancho High School coach Wally Salata watches a Rams’ volleyball match in the RAC this fall. (Herron photo)

at the City of Champions Classic.

Such is life for Rio Rancho High School boys coach Wally Salata, hopeful of getting some wins when veterans Jamal Bynum and Mikey Wood return. Bynum recently concluded his season with the United Academy team; Wood is coming back from a broken collarbone suffered during football, but is expected to be medically cleared soon.

“We’re not deep at all,” Salata said, noting that former forward Austin Ford has returned to the team, but as a manager not a player.

“We don’t have a lot of firepower right now,” Salata said, content that big Maddox Presser is inside the paint, hauling down rebounds.

And with outside shooters Bynum, who plays the point, and Wood closing in on 100 percent, there should be improvement in the team’s won-lost record soon.

Here’s what happened in the Lone Star State:

Palo Duro 72, Rams 58: “Three-point shooting was the difference,” said Salata. “They were 13 of 31; we were 2 of 17. Everything else was even, as far as the stats, and each team had 24 turnovers.”

Jayden Johnson led the Rams with 22 points and Estevan Morales had 12.

“They had four guys in double figures; their; their leader with 29 had seven 3s.”

Presser was in foul trouble in the first half and finished with 8 points, but grabbed 9 rebounds.

“Palo Duro plays the same style as Hobbs,” Salata said, “so we should be ready for the press (of the Eagles).

“I feel good about that game, to be honest with you; we need to get some practice time for Jamal, so he can get his ball-handling skills back.”

Amarillo 54, Rams 39: Jerry Archuleta had 18, 12 of those coming from the four 3s he sank, and was the lone Ram in double figures.

“Our free-throw shooting hasn’t been bad; we made 8-of-9 at Amarillo and then 3-of 4.

“They’re 8-1. We were up 22-20 at halftime, then outscored 34-17 in the second half. We were only down by four going into the fourth quarter. They had three guys in double figures; they had nine 3s, we had six.”

RAMifications: Coincidentally, the Rams’ second game in Artesia will be against a team that ended Rio Rancho’s high schools 2021-22 seasons: Los Lunas, which ended Cleveland High’s season in the first round in Los Lunas, or Carlsbad, which ended the Rams’ playoff run in the RAC.

… Rams fans won’t have far to travel to see the team’s sixth game of the season; it Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. at Albuquerque High. The Rams’ first home game is one week later, Dec. 13, when Santa Fe visits for a 7 p.m. tipoff.

… Former Rams head coach Joe Cantou, 63, recently died at his Indianapolis home. Cantou, the Rams’ third head hoops coach, coached the Ram to a 15-13 record. When his wife’s father was having medical difficulties, Cantou left New Mexico, where he’d also coached at Roswell and Taos, to return to the Hoosier State. He was born in Santa Fe and was a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a bachelor’s degree in political science, going on to earn his master’s degree in administration. He was laid to rest at The Gardens at Olive Branch Cemetery and Mausoleum Park in Indianapolis.