The Rampart Holiday Classic finale between the Rams and the Pueblo West boys’ basketball team certainly gave fans a good show.t
The Cyclones claimed a 61-60 victory over Rampart, finding redemption for an overtime loss in the classic a year ago.
The game was back-and-forth the whole way through, with Rampart holding a narrow four-point lead lead with less than a minute to go.
But Pueblo West wasn’t going to let the Rams’ lead hold for long. Senior Jordan Lopez, who coach Bobby Tyler calls the team’s "offensive tackle" because he does all of the “dirty work” but rarely gets credit, nailed a 3-pointer with 12.8 seconds remaining to make it a one-point game. After the play a foul was called on Rampart under the basket, which in a haze of confusion sent Lopez to the line, where he made his first shot to tie the game.
“He plays more minutes than anyone on the team, but no one even knows who Jordan Lopez is in this state,” Tyler said. “But when you play in a big game like this he’s always going to make one or two little things at the end happen for us.”
Another foul seconds later sent Pueblo West’s Nieyeme Smeyer-Williams to the line, where he made one of two attempts to give the Cyclones the lead they needed with 1.5 seconds to play.
After regaining possession, Rampart’s efforts with a draining clock were unsuccessful as Pueblo West pulled off the last-second win.
The Cyclones forced the Rams (7-3) to play on their toes in the first quarter, forcing sloppy turnovers and racking up a 17-4 lead at the end of the frame. But Rampart quickly settled, and cut the deficit to one heading into halftime.
“We dug ourselves in a hole just trying too hard, but once we relaxed a little bit and got back into our comfort zone we got some stops,” Rampart coach J’on St. Clair said. “We went into our zone which slowed them down a little bit we got back into it.”
From there, the battle began.
“How does that happen, when they’re up by four with less than a minute left on the clock and they end up losing on a last-second shot? It’s just one of those matchups,” Tyler said. “J’on and I have been coaching against each other for about 22-24 years now and I kind of know everything he does, and he definitely knows everything I do.”