Rams dominate Bulldogs to improve to 24-0 on the season

Published 11:41 pm Friday, January 27, 2023

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The Valley Rams played spoiler to LaFayette’s senior night as the Rams dominated the LaFayette Bulldogs 80-55 on Friday.

The Rams relied on physical players like Cam Dooley and Brandon Thomas to win in the paint while Jamarious Martin, Denali Dooley and Jay Harper did damage from the perimeter.

Valley head coach Marshon Harper was pleased to see his team come out flying in a hostile environment.

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“My team played unbelievably from the beginning to the end,” Harper said.

“It’s an unbelievable atmosphere. Let’s go out like we’re playing for the title. They responded.”

The Rams were able to spoil LaFayette’s senior night in the first quarter when Valley’s starting five boosted the Rams to a 31-13 lead heading into the second quarter.

From then on, the Rams were in cruise control as the Bulldogs tried to fight back from the early deficit.

The Rams took a 51-25 lead at halftime, and Valley’s started continued to create turnovers and draw fouls in the paint.

Harper knew that was the toughest atmosphere Valley played in all season, but he feels like it was a good test for what they’ll see in the postseason.

“We needed this atmosphere,” Harper said.

“The whole team stepped up. We were shooting. We were dunking. We were passing. We were playing defense. We got up and down the court. We may have had a perfect game tonight.”

Although Valley has taken several massive halftime leads this season, Harper is able to convince his guys to stay in the game.

“It’s 0-0 at halftime,” Harper said.

“We try to be explosive in the third quarter every time. That was our downfall last year. We’re working on that this year.”

Harper wants his team to stay humble despite being 24-0, but his team is able to keep the energy up every game.

“We just believe,” Harper said.

“We’re trying to get a state title. Every time we step out on that court, we’re trying to play our tails off. They did an unbelievable job tonight.”

Harper has been a part of the Valley-LaFayette rivalry for over 20 years, and he’s happy to see it possibly end with a blowout win.

“It means a lot,” Harper said.

“Hats off to LaFayette. I’m proud of them, but my team played extremely well tonight. We need to work on free throws though.”

For LaFayette head coach Chase Lewis, he knew he got beat by a good team.

“They’re a good team,” Lewis said.

“They came out and hit us in the mouth, and they didn’t let up. They have a lot at stake right now, and they’re so mentally focused on their job. I think they just wanted to put on a really good show in front of this crowd. They’re shooting the ball a lot better than in the past, so that threw my game plan off. They played a really good game.”

Lewis also knows that the game would’ve been completely different if the Rams didn’t have the fast start.

“We talked about that at the end of the game,” Lewis said.

“We let it get out of hand in the first quarter, so we had to play catch up the whole night. They’re one of the best teams in 5A if you ask me.”

Despite losing by 25, Lewis feels like his team is going to be OK.

“I don’t think the end result dictates exactly who we are,” Lewis said.

“We could’ve avoided some turnovers, and if we made some free throws, that would’ve helped us. I think we need to play hard all the time no matter who we’re playing. If we do that, we won’t have any trouble.”