41-1: Rams lose first game since 2021-22 season
Published 11:33 pm Friday, December 15, 2023
For the first time since the 2021-2022 season, the Valley Rams finished a basketball game behind in the score column as Auburn topped Valley 75-70 in overtime.
Valley had several chances to win the game in the fourth period and in overtime. The Rams came away with a steal with time winding down in regulation, and Cam Dooley went up for a pass with a chance to steal a win. An Auburn defender came with the steal and sent the game to overtime.
Valley coach Marshon Harper felt that Dooley was undercut by the defender on the pass, and he believed the Rams should have been going to the charity stripe with a chance to win the game in regulation.
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“I mean we played hard, but in a crucial time of the game, we throw a deep ball and the man goes under him,” Harper said.
“You’ve got to call the foul. I don’t care what it is. I don’t care if it’s home or if the time is running out. You’ve got to call that foul and give us a chance to win at the free-throw line. Hats off to Auburn. They’ve got a good team, they played hard, good fan support. I am proud of my boys, we played hard tonight. We’re going to win that title. That’s good, we needed this game.”
It took a Herculean effort just for Valley to send the game into overtime. The Rams fought from being down 10 midway through the fourth period and eventually took the lead with one minute left in regulation.
Jayden Thomas came up with a clutch steal, and Dooley made the bucket to give the Rams the lead at that point. Then, Dooley sent it to overtime as he found his way to the rim and then came up with a steal to thwart Auburn’s final possession.
“It just shows heart,” Harper said. “It just shows the heart of a champion. That’s all it shows. Hostile environment, they came out and played their tails off. I’m proud of them, can’t ask for anything else.”
Dooley had a night for the Rams as he finished with 32 points, six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. Brandon Thomas followed behind Dooley with 22 points, 11 rebounds, five steals and two blocks. Thomas also hit a clutch three-pointer in overtime that cut the lead to two with 41.6 seconds left. Jay Harper had a big game for the Rams, finishing with 11 points, six rebounds and one block.
In overtime, the Rams struggled to find offense, and the Tigers were able to seal the game at the charity stripe. Free throws hurt Valley as the Rams connected on just 15 of their 27 attempts from the charity stripe. Valley also connected on just four of its 17 shots from behind the arc.
The loss on Friday for the Rams ends a 41-game winning streak dating back to last season. The Rams are 8-1 and face Troup County at home on Saturday. According to Harper, Troup is in for a rough game.
“Whoever we play tomorrow, them five won’t come out,” Harper said. “We’re going to beat them by 30. I guarantee that we’re going to beat them by 30.”