Rams looking up, take down Valley View
SADLER — The improvement has been tangible not just from last season but also compared to nearly a decade. And while S&S has been reduced to playing the role of spoiler during the second half of district play, it hopes that a year from now, it can be the team trying to avoid an upset bid.
The Rams continued to provide a better foundation for the future after they came away with a 60-40 victory over Valley View in 10-3A action.
A program that hadn’t won a district game in four years now has a handful of them, as well as multiple district victories in the same season for the first time since 2013.
“Trying to build on something, it’s been that learning process,” S&S head coach Cory Gilley said. “With nine guys returning, I felt like we had a chance to improve tremendously.”
Daymon Orr scored 16 points, Jake Reynolds totaled 11 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals, Kevin Sanchez added 10 points and four steals and Coulten Courville chipped in six points for S&S (5-16, 3-9), which hosts second-place Whitesboro on Friday night.
Colby Lewis had nine points, Wyatt Huber and Jacob Slower each added eight points and Logan Lewis totaled six points and nine rebounds for Valley View (2-18, 0-11), which hosts fourth-place Pilot Point on Friday.
Last year S&S won only four games but none of them came in the latter half of the season. And five of the losses this year have been by single digits.
“I’m happy with how we’re competing more in games. We’re staying in games a lot longer,” Gilley said. “Stepping stones we have to take in order to become successful.”
Keane Ortega’s three-pointer with just under three minutes remaining provided the biggest lead of the night at 55-30 and the closest Valley View was in the frame came on a Slover layin to open the fourth and put the deficit at 17 points.
S&S had broken the game open in the middle of the third quarter and relied on Orr to do the heavy lifting. The Rams scored more in that span with 24 points than they did in the first half combined.
Orr scored 10 of those, including three straight baskets in the heart of a 10-0 run that was bookended by buckets from Sanchez and Reynolds. It pushed the gap to 33-18 as Valley View’s only point during a four-minute stretch came at the free-throw line.
The Eagles also committed nine turnovers in the third.
Reynolds connected on a three and then made a free throw as the lead hit 20 points for the first time and it sat at 45-26 when Orr capped the quarter with a layup at the buzzer.
“He can get hot and we can ride those coattails,” Gilley said.
The Eagles made their best move during the middle of the second quarter. After Sanchez nailed a three-pointer for a 15-6 lead, Huber finished off a three-point play and Colby Lewis followed with a free throw as the deficit was down to five points with 3:16 left in the half.
Three-pointers from Dylan Ridenour and Reynolds on consecutive possessions pushed the lead to double digits for the first time and provided a cushion as the Rams went into the locker room with a 21-14 advantage.
“First-half I thought we tried to do too much. Our defense helped us out big-time,” Gilley said. “It was a low-scoring game and I figured if we simplified things it would go better in our favor and it did.”
Valley View hit just three shots in the first two quarters; the other eight points came off free throws.
The Eagles’ only lead of the night came on the opening possession when Kyle Stewart hit a turnaround jumper.
Brett Steward answered with a three-point play for the Rams before Stewart tied the game on a free throw. After that S&S slowly built up its lead over the next two-and-a-half quarters.
Sanchez helped finish off the first quarter as the Rams were up 10-4. Valley View managed only a free throw by Hayden Hilliard in almost a five-minute stretch but S&S was unable to take advantage of the scoring drought along with the eight turnovers it forced.
Valley View 40