Boys basketball: Rams land big payback on Santa Fe to win their own tournament - Albuquerque Journal

Boys basketball: Rams land big payback on Santa Fe to win their own tournament

RIO RANCHO — In the return match between Santa Fe and Rio Rancho, it was the Rams who protected home court and earned both validation and payback.

Senior shooting guard Andrew Sanchez delivered repeatedly Thursday night for seventh-ranked Rio Rancho, including two huge 3-pointers in the fourth quarter as the Rams overcame the third-ranked Demons 48-42 in the championship game of the Jalene Berger Allstate Holiday Hoops Classic.

“It felt so good, (because) they came back on us the last game,” said Sanchez. “This game, it was nice to beat them, because they’re a good team.”

Rams coach Wally Salata characterized this as his team’s best victory of the season.

“It gives us a lot of confidence going forward, and I’m just excited for the kids,” Salata said.

In a 42-42 game, teammate Jamal Bynum kicked it out to the far corner to Sanchez, who didn’t hesitate as he swished it through with 40 seconds remaining.

“Honestly, I just saw Jamal drive, so I just stayed in the corner and he found me and it played out nice,” Sanchez said. “I was feeling it so I let it fly.”

The Rams had possession with under a minute, with strict instructions from Salata.

“I told them, ‘If you have the layup, take the layup, or if you have the open 3,’ ” Salata said.

Sanchez was 4 of 5 from the arc and led Rio Rancho with 16 points. He had buried a 3 moments earlier to give the Rams (6-4) a 40-39 lead with 3:27 to go.

At the other end, Robert Martinez’s three-point play for Santa Fe (11-2) put the Demons in front 42-40 with 3:12 left. But Santa Fe didn’t score another point, and only got off one more shot attempt while turning it over three times.

“They were applying pressure and the way you have to attack it is by being aggressive, and we were a little passive there the last three minutes,” Demons coach Zack Cole said.

And while Cole said they had Sanchez targeted as a shooting threat, there was a missed assignment, he said, that led to Sanchez having a clean look.

“He is a very good shooter for us, but he hasn’t played very well up to this point, so this is a confidence game for him going forward,” Salata said, whose team lost 44-40 at Santa Fe on Dec. 14.

“We just wanted revenge from last time,” Bynum said. “Because we felt we should have been 1-0 against them.”

The Demons labored from the field in the first half, making just 1 of 15 shots from beyond the arc as they trailed 22-16 at halftime. But Santa Fe connected on three 3s in the first 2½ minutes of the third quarter for a 25-24 lead.

Neither team led by more than three in a seesaw second half that featured eight lead changes. Keagan Caton’s insurance free throws with 23.7 seconds left gave Rio Rancho a 47-42 cushion.

*

RIO RANCHO 48, SANTA FE 42

SANTA FE (11-2): Lukas Turner 4, Elefio Benavidez 4, Elijah Apodaca 3, Robert Martinez 9, Diego Ortiz 8, P.J. Lovato 14. Totals 14 9-18 42.

RIO RANCHO (6-4): Andrew Sanchez 16, Mikey Wood 2, Keagan Caton 12, Jamal Bynum 8, Jeremiah Morris 2, Jayden Johnson 6, Maddox Presser 2. Toitals 20 4-7 48.

Santa Fe     6  10  20   6 — 42

Rio Rancho 8  14  11  15 — 48

3-point goals: SF 5 (Lovato 2, Martinez 2, Turner); RR 4 (Sanchez 4). Total fouls: SF 13; RR 18.

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