Chiefs nearly bomb way to upset
ALMA -- Achieving redemption in loss was a theme plumbed by the late director Sam Peckinpah.
That may make the Santa Fe boys "The Wild Bunch" of prep hoops. Even while losing 17 straight games, the young Chiefs have continued to battle. Such was the case Friday at Alma when they nearly upended more powerful I-70 Conference rival Concordia before coming up short, 68-62.
There was no reason to expect this game to be competitive, and a blow-out appeared likely when the Orioles scored the first nine points.
Yet, Santa Fe turned to a weapon which has not always fired accurately: three-point shots, attempting 43 of them -- the seventh-most in state history. Enough fell that the Chiefs made a couple of rallies, the first a 10-0 spurt in barely over two minutes of the first period to briefly take a lead.
Two questions remained: could they keep making them and could they stop Concordia? The answer to both: not quite.
After Santa Fe's first surge, the Orioles reeled off eight points in a row. Sophomore Jacob Evans, a 6-foot-5 forward, made three stick-backs during the second frame -- part of 16 points the Orioles scored off of 10 offensive rebounds in the half.
Concordia extended its 11-point halftime lead to 21 by the end of the third period, senior Scott Riesterer tallying six points during the third period. Some teams may have folded, but not the Chiefs.
Junior B.J. Ford buried a three to begin the fourth quarter, and the barrage was on. Sophomore Kenzie Thorp struck from outside, Ford hit two more and sophomore Ben Catlett and Thorp sank pull-up jumpers.
When Thorp connected twice from long range, Santa Fe's deficit was down to eight points with 2:44 left. Concordia helped the Chiefs' comeback bid with a two-minute scoreless skein, turning the ball over three times.
Santa Fe, though, was unable to get more open looks from the perimeter because the Orioles tightened up their man-to-man defense. Junior Daniel Petet got loose inside for a bucket and free throw, closing the margin to 64-59 with 37.5 seconds to go.
However, the Chiefs were unable to come up with an defensive rebound when two players collided while chasing down a missed shot and came up dry on their next two possessions. Concordia made four of six free throws the rest of the way to preserve the win.
Senior Kyle Knight led the Orioles (18-6, 5-2 I-70) with 22 points and 13 rebounds.
Thorp had 23 points and nine steals for Santa Fe (1-20, 0-7), making six treys -- four during the final frame. The Chiefs' seven fourth-quarter bombs tied for fifth in the state record book.
Santa Fe closes out the regular season Thursday at third-ranked Braymer.