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When it comes down to the final minutes, it is the big shots that matter. Though the Sharyland Rattlers outplayed the Memorial Mustangs for three quarters and a half, it was the Mustangs who come through in the end, spurred by a home crowd to win 54-51 in a key District 30-5A match-up.
“We missed some key layups and key free throws that cost us the game,” said Rattler head coach David Keith following the game. “They had some guys step up that hit some big shots that normally don't. That was the difference in the game.”
For most of the game, however, it was clearly the Rattlers who controlled the tempo and looked to be the better team. Led by senior Fred Ramos and junior Joaquin Pistokache, it was Shary who was hitting the shots. The back court duo combined to score 35 of the teams 51 points.
The Rattlers led at the end of each quarter with leads of 19-14, 29-25 and 40-34 while expanding the lead to as much as ten in the fourth quarter. Yet, Memorial would never go away.
With just over 4 minutes remaining in the game Keith called a timeout after he saw his team's lead of 45-36 cut to 45-42. Out of the timeout a play was set up for Pistokache to launch one beyond the arc. The play ran smooth but the junior's shot ended up short. However, teammate Albert Villegas grabbed the miss and put it back up, kissing it off the glass as the ref's whistle blew signaling a foul on the shot. Villegas made the basket, extending his team's lead to six and igniting the strong Rattler road crowd.
After Memorial cut the lead to four with just under three minutes, Keith again called a timeout. This time, Ramos got the ball, driving to the basket before being fouled. The senior went to the line, hitting one of two.
On the miss, Pistokache flew high for the rebound pulling it down and subsequently getting fouled. Pistokache, like Ramos, would hit one of two from the charity stripe.
The missed free throws would only be the beginning of the woes from the foul line in the final minutes. Less than a minute later, Ramos would be fouled again. This time, however, the guard would go 0-2. The missed free throws ignited the Mustang crowd and allowed their team to build more and more in confidence.
In between the missed shots and opportunities, Memorial would go on a 10-3 run to finish the game. However, Sharyland had two opportunities to tie the game down the stretch. Down 52-50, Ramos was fouled with 23.3 seconds remaining. The guard would hit only one.
When Memorial would hit both their free throws to take a 54-51 lead, Sharyland would be given a last chance to tie with just seconds to score. The final play, inbounded from the baseline and closer towards the Rattler bench, was ran perfectly. Pistokache began the play in the corner closest to the bench. As the play unfolded, the team captain took off directly to the exact opposite end, receiving a screen that left him all alone. The good look fell just short hitting the front end and sending the Rattlers to the locker room with a very sour taste in their mouths.
“Memorial did a good job,” said an obviously disappointed Keith. “[but] I definitely feel like we beat ourselves.”
The Rattlers are now 2-2 and face Mission on Friday.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.