RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
The Randolph Ramblers erased a seven-point deficit late in Sunday's game against host Lackland to nip the Warhawks 78-76 on a buzzer-beating layup.
The victory avenged a 118-79 drubbing at the hands of the Warhawks just a day earlier.
"It was a big win," said Randolph coach Larus Martin. "It turned us in the right direction. We can definitely play with anybody at any given time, but it takes an all-around effort by everybody on the team - from the starters to the bench players."
Down seven points with a minute and a half left, the Ramblers turned up the defensive pressure and tied the score on a Todd Holmes three-pointer with eight seconds left. Lackland inbounded the ball, but trapping defense allowed Holmes to intercept the ensuing pass. He found shooting guard Michael Carraway cutting to the basket and delivered the ball to him for the winning shot.
It was an important victory for the 5-9 Ramblers as they defeated a 12-2 squad that has won the Southwest Military Athletic Conference title the last four years, Martin said.
"It's a game we can build on for the rest of the season," he said. "Now we need to win some games and position ourselves to get into the playoffs."
Holmes led the Ramblers in scoring, but point guard Nicholas Reese and Carraway also played major roles.
"Carraway came up big," Martin said. "He hit three three-pointers down the stretch."
Martin said the Ramblers' performance Sunday was a stark contrast to Saturday's game, which the Warhawks won by nearly 40 points. Randolph followed a similar pattern the weekend of Jan. 9-10, when they played better in the second game against Fort Sam Houston. The difference was that they lost both games to Fort Sam.
The Ramblers spotted the Warhawks a nine-point halftime lead in the second game last weekend, but performed solidly in the second half.
"We defended well, shot better and played well at the end of the game," Martin said. "Our defense was much better; we were able to create some turnovers. We also rebounded better and did not allow second opportunities."
Martin said the keys for the Ramblers as they continue the second half of the season are consistent defense, good shot selection and limiting turnovers.
The Ramblers will compete this weekend in the Ranger Jam at Fort Sam Houston, then travel to Goodfellow Air Force Base in Abilene for games Feb. 6-7.