Critical points scored down the stretch led the Hays Rebels to a hard-fought 72-65 upset win over the Vista Ridge Rangers Tuesday at Bales Gym.
The opening quarter was a defensive battle as neither team was able to generate offense. Rebel senior Piercen Hoekstra scored the first two points of the game off an assist from Sophomore Carlos Rocha. The Rebels tried to feed the post early by going to Hoekstra, but was limited by a formidable Ranger backcourt.
After a series of back-and-forth possessions, Vista Ridge held a 13-11 lead after the first quarter.
The frenetic pace of play continued for most of the second quarter, with Vista Ridge staying ahead until the last few minutes. It was at that point the Rebel offense exploded for eight points in the span of a minute that helped them take a 29-28 lead at halftime.
Highlighting the Rebel run were three-pointers from junior Tiras Morton and freshman Will Agnew, as well as a bucket from junior Noah Fultz.
The Rebels kept the hot hand to start the second half, highlighted by a barrage of three-pointers from Fultz, senior Dre Green and sophomore Luke Watson.
Relentless Rebel pressure contributed to Ranger shooting struggles, which allowed Hays to take a 48-43 lead into the final quarter.
Vista Ridge, however, didn’t back down and opened the fourth quarter by making seven of its first ten shots. Despite this, the Rebels did just enough to hold onto their lead, and following a Morton three, led 64-60 with under two minutes left to play.
Green came up with the steal on the next Vista Ridge drive, and Hays sophomore Caden Doyle sunk two free throws on the ensuing possession.
The Rangers did their best to trim the lead, scoring five points in the last minute, but a pair of free throws by Morton and a last second layup from junior Jacob Monroe proved too much to overcome for the visitors.
The win improved the Rebels’ record to 12-20, whereas the Rangers dropped to 19-12.
Offensively, the Rebels were led by Morton, who recorded 14 points, 6 assists, and 2 steals. Green had 12 points, four rebounds, and three assists, while senior Piercen Hoekstra led his team in rebounds with five.
The Hays Rebels will close out their season on the road Friday, when they travel to Vandegrift High School to take on the Vipers.