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Free throws power San Luis past Antelope to first win
The free-throw line has been a place of frustration for the San Luis boys basketball team early in the season.
During crunch time of a close game against Antelope on Friday night, the Sidewinders went nearly perfect from the line and came away with a 64-54 win in Wellton.
With the Sidewinders leading 55-53 with just over two minutes left in the game, San Luis went 7 of 8 from the free-throw line to finish the game.
“It was a point of emphasis,” San Luis coach Tim Morrison said about the free-throw line. “In the first couple games we lost by about 15 but we missed about 70 percent of our free throws, so it's something we've hit hard in practice.”
Three of the made free throws for San Luis came from junior guard Israel Coria, who finished with a game-high 27 points on 11 for 19 shooting. Playing in his second game of the year, post Alan Patrino recorded a double-double with 18 points and 15 rebounds for the Sidewinders.
“Today he earned his game legs,” Morrison said of Patrino. “He's going to be a valuable asset going forward. I always knew he could do this.”
Antelope (1-6) got 18 points from Beto Castro, including three 3-pointers in the first half and Ramon Alcala added 15 in the losing effort.
“We fought hard. Our guys fought to the very end. (San Luis) stepped up and made their free throws,” Antelope coach Lance Wagner said.
The Rams jumped out to an early 10-2 run but the Sidewinders responded with a 10-2 run of their own — and the two teams battled the rest of the way. After going into halftime with Antelope up 29-28, neither team built more than a three-point lead the entire third quarter and a lay-up by Alcala made it 48-48 midway through the fourth.
Then the Sidewinders (1-6) responded with a three by Coria and a basket by Patrino off a pick-and-roll. A basket by Coria later gave the Sidewinders a 55-50 lead but Antelope's Ramon Lara banked in a 3-pointer with 2:10 left in the game. From there, the Sidewinders won it on the free-throw line.
“Like I've been telling the guys, winning is a skill,” Morrison said. “Talent is something that's been given to you, but cultivating that talent comes through practice but winning is something you have to learn and it's a process. Hopefully this is the first process,”
Missing for most of the fourth quarter was Castro, who walked off the court holding his back with six minutes left in the fourth quarter. The guard returned in the closing moments but missed both of his 3-point attempts.
Last year, the Sidewinders beat Antelope 49-40 at home at a similar point in the season. It would be the only win for San Luis, which finished 1-23 on the year.
“I'm a little skeptical because this was the only game we won last year,” Morrison said. “But if we become satisfied with it, we're back to square one. It could go one of two ways. It's either going to catapult us forward where we're working hard in practice and getting after it every day or we're going to be happy about this and business as usual. Being casual in practice.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.