The final, most physical game of the semester was also the tightest.
By William A Peters
The Rangers planked Victoria College’s Pirates 98-97 Wednesday at Candler Physical Education Center in the final sanctioned game of the semester.
Battling at home through extensive fouls, rough play and a tight game, the Rangers came out on top.
The game started tight with both teams trading points. By 15:46 the score was tied 8-8.
The Rangers defense was on point early in the game — players were rebounding, and there was pressure on the Pirates to dissuade shooting; this allowed the Rangers to narrowly pull ahead early in the half.
By 10:58 the Pirates tied 23-23 off the back of free-throw shots. The Pirates took the momentum and obtained a 5-point lead over the Rangers minutes later.
Late into the first half, kinesiology freshman Adam Villanueva kept the Rangers in the game by making layups and short shots and forcing fouls. His play kept them in the game, but at the end of the first half the Rangers were down 54-47.
Immediately in the second half, the Pirates established dominance, scoring 3 points in the first minute, then another 2 with a forced foul to pull further ahead. By 16:58 the Pirates had a 10-point lead over the Rangers, 68-58.
The game took a more physical turn at 14:59 after lots of contact taking the ball down the court; kinesiology freshman Jerry Samudio was accidentally clotheslined by an opposing team member. A foul wasn’t called, and Samudio could be seen wrinkling his face and fidgeting, but he kept his cool and played on.
The Rangers played on and more effectively with fast constant passing and good rebounds, they battled back to a tie, then ahead by 3 points in large part thanks to kinesiology freshman Gabriel Hilderbrand’s teamwork and 3-point shots. Kinesiology freshman Lorenzo Vela’s short game also helped to bring the Rangers to an advantaged position, up 71-68 with 13:10 left to play in the second half.
The Rangers maintained the momentum late into the second half with both teams trading fouls and giving up free points.
It took only minutes for the Pirates to go from a 10-point deficit to a tie, 93-93 at 2:23 on the clock.
In the last 20 seconds of the game, the Rangers were up by 2 points, 98-96, thanks to Vela scoring both free throws off a forced foul after a layup attempt.
The game was all but over after a Ranger rebound and an unsuccessful dunk by the Pirates, but a travel call on the Rangers in the last five seconds of the game gave them a chance to tie the score and force overtime.
With two seconds left to play, the Pirates took their first shot, but a defense attempt of smacking the ball out of the hands of the opponent resulted in a foul that gave the Pirates a chance for 2 points to tie things up, with the score still at 98-96.
The Pirates missed the first free-throw shot, effectively ending the game. The Rangers won 98-97 in a very physical game.
The Rangers will play two more times before the end of the year in exhibition matches at home.
During the break from school, the Rangers won’t be kicking up their feet. Coach Louis Martinez has plans to keep them in shape.
“We will try to get into a gym or we’ll just go run,” he said.
The team will play Schreiner University at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Candler Physical Education Center.