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Before Atrisco Heritage ends Cleveland’s season, it ended the Rams’ 20-win campaign

March 16, 2019 GMT

The fourth time was anything but the charm for the third-seeded Rio Rancho boys basketball team, after a 16-1 run by No. 6 Atrisco Heritage Academy in the second period paved the way for a convincing 77-58 win at Dreamstyle Arena?The Pit Wednesday evening.

Although the Rams (20-9) had swept the two regular-season district meetings from the Jaguars (21-7), AHA had beaten the Rams in an APS Metro Championships game before ending what had been a fine season at The Pit.

The Rams had led 20-15 before the disastrous run put the defending big-school champions ahead to stay ? and into a semifinal contest Thursday evening against Cleveland, the team AHA beat in the 2018 title tilt.

Trailing 36-25 at halftime, the Rams managed only five points off their first nine possessions of the second half and trailed by 16 heading into the fourth quarter, never to get closer than nine the rest of the way.

Right after that, the Jaguars stepped on the gas and went on an 11-2 run for a 71-53 lead with 1:53 to go.

Senior center Blaine Gallegos, limited to three buckets on 11 shots inside the paint, hadn’t practiced all week, coach Wally Salata said, after an ankle injury in a first-round game last Saturday. Gallegos could still jump, gathering a game-high 12 rebounds, as the Rams out-boarded the Jaguars 36-245.

But shooting 60 percent (27 of 45) from the field, including 50 percent (8 of 16) from 3-point range, there weren’t very many rebounds available at the defensive end for the Rams.

David Patterson led the Rams with 29 points; the district’s Offensive Player of the Year, Joziah Ramos, led the Jaguars with a double-double, 25 points and 13 rebounds.

Rio Rancho 94, Gadsden 73: Last Saturday, the Rams advanced to the quarterfinals after shaking off an early 8-2 deficit and using a 30-point second-quarter outburst to turn what had been a 20-15 Panthers (16-10) lead into a 45-39 Rams edge.

By game’s end, Kobe Barrientos had 35 points, but only one other Panther, Diego Hernandez, with 16, was also in double figures.

No. 14 Gadsden never recovered in the second half, as the Rams steadily built their lead to a commanding 23 late in the third quarter, which ended with Rio Rancho up 70-47.

“That’s everybody’s goal at the beginning of the year, to get to The Pit,” Salata said. “We haven’t been there in three years.”

That’s the year (2016) they went as the 11 seed and beat Carlsbad in the championship game.

“It’s an exciting feeling to go back,” Salata said. “We were on a three-game losing streak.”

Patterson led the Rams with a well-balanced 28 points ? 13 in the first half, 15 in the second. Isaiah Chavez and Gallegos had 14 apiece, and Owen Olney joined them in double figures with 10.

Ram dunks: The victory over Gadsden was Salata’s 150th as the Rams’ boss.

? Salata managed to get senior Royce Olney on the floor for the first time this season. Olney had been out all season after ACL surgery, got into the game late, but couldn’t connect on either of his 3-point attempts.

? The Rams faced Gadsden in Salata’s first game as head coach, a 76-74 win in the RAC on Nov. 17, 2009. The teams met the next two years, with the Rams 2-1 in the three games.

? RRHS was 11-4 in the RAC this season.

? Salata said goodbye to five seniors: Patterson, Gallegos, Royce Olney, Adam Wilcox and Cash Carrasco.