By BILL PETERSON
San Marcos High School boys basketball coach Rob Shivers said, “Any game in this district is winnable,” Friday night, as if to cruelly remind himself of what he’d just seen.
The Rattlers not only were in a winnable game, but a game they were winning against Del Valle, the clear leader in District 17-4A halfway through the league calendar. Through three quarters, San Marcos held a comfortable lead, 40-33. Comfortable. But not insurmountable for Del Valle, which stormed back with 22 points in the fourth quarter, caught up late and held the lead at the end, 55-53.
San Marcos still led into the final two minutes before Del Valle’s Rodney Lee hit a lay-up from underneath while running the baseline with 1:01 left, giving his team a 52-51 lead.
Aaron Canady responded for San Marcos by making two free throws to put his team ahead, 53-52, with 45 seconds left. But Bralyn Thomas made two free throws with 27.5 seconds left, giving Del Valle a 54-53 lead.
The Rattlers went back down the floor, where Cameron Austin missed a runner with 12 seconds left. Canady nearly snagged the loose-ball rebound, but Del Valle won that fight and ran the floor before the Rattlers fouled Thomas with 9.7 seconds left.
Thomas made the first, taking the lead to 55-53, but missed the second. Rather than call time out, the Rattlers went straight down floor, where Chad Arch found an open three from the left corner. Arch’s shot hit the inside of the back rim and Lee Bryant rebounded. However, Del Valle blocked the put back as time expired.
“Some teams call time out there, but we know what we’re going to do and a time out gives the other team a chance to set their defense,” Shivers said. “We got an open three and a chance for a put back.”
The Rattlers are 3-3 in the District 17-4A (16-8 overall), still solidly in playoff position. Next, they run into a stretch against Elgin, Hays, Lockhart and Lehman. The games against Hays and Lehman will be in the Snake Pit.
If the Rattlers can win all four, they would all but clinch a playoff berth. And it might be wise for them to punch that ticket by then, because their final two games are on the road against the district’s two top teams – Manor and Del Valle.
Del Valle is 6-0 in the district and 18-8 overall. With a 62-45 win against Manor Tuesday night, the Cardinals stand along as the only unbeaten team left in the district.
The Rattlers came out strong Friday night in front of a rabid crowd in the Snake Pit, hitting leads of 14-9 after the first quarter and 29-21 after the second. But Del Valle stabilized the game in the third quarter and really took control in the fourth.
“Energywise, the atmosphere was very good in this game,” Shivers said. “But in the fourth quarter, (Lee) and (Thomas) just kept attacking the rim, attacking the rim, attacking the rim, and we missed the front end of one-and-ones.”
Lee led all scorers with 19 points. Thomas and Jozef Cortez each scored 11 for Del Valle.
Austin topped the Rattlers with 21 points, followed by Bryant with 12.