Clutch free throw shooting propels Rebels to victory

Clutch points from the charity stipe Friday propelled the Hays Rebels to a 63-58 win over the Anderson Trojans at Bales Gym.

Success at the free throw line came in at a key time as Friday’s game was close for the better part of three quarters.

Anderson got on the board first with a three to open the game, but Hays went on to dominate the rest of the quarter. Hays senior Carlos Rocha opened the scoring for Hays with a three from the corner and the flood gates opened up for Hays from there. Hays went on an 18-0 run over the next six minutes and held a commanding 20-8 lead going into the second quarter.

But shots started falling for Anderson in the second quarter as junior Max Smith displayed his range from the three-point line. Smith drained three straight three-pointers and the Trojans were right back in it. Hays had cooled off a bit offensively, but were still getting to the basket. Seniors Noah Fultz and Tiras Morton battled to keep their squad ahead, as the pair combined for eight points in the quarter. While Anderson tallied 21-points in the second frame, Hays stayed ahead 32-29 at halftime.

Both teams stepped up defensively in the third quarter; only 17 points were scored between the two teams combined. Hays led 40-38 going into the final quarter.

A pair of Anderson free throws tied up the game at 40-40 early in the fourth quarter. Free throw shooting was equally critical for the Rebels in the final quarter. The Rebels went 14 of 18 from the charity stripe in the final quarter. Hays gained further separation via a corner three-pointer from Rocha, which placed Hays ahead.

Hays’ Tiras Morton was all over the place in the final quarter, recording eight points, two steals, and a critical charge taken late in the game to help his squad secure the 63-58 win.

Head coach Matt Sandoval was pleased with his squad’s offensive performance in the big win.

“I thought we had a great week of practice and we were really prepared for this game,” Sandoval said. “The kids executed the game plan and that first group played really well tonight. We really grew up tonight.”

Senior Tiras Morton finished with 19 points, six rebounds, two assists and three steals. Noah Fultz finished with a team high nine rebounds and 17 points. Watson and Rocha both finished with ten points of their own. Sandoval hopes to see more of what Tiras Morton showed him tonight going forward.

“Him doing this on a more consistent basis is something we look forward to,” Sandoval said.

Hays hosts Akins Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Bales Gym.

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