HOLTVILLE — On Thursday night at the John A. Kirchenbauer Sports Complex in Holtville, the Vikings went to war with the Kofa Kings in a boys Varsity basketball non-conference battle, but Holtville was eventually outlasted 56-45 after the final whistle.
Holtville wet the net early from beyond the arc in the first quarter, raining in five three pointers.
Octavio Loya, Desmond Mouze, and the game’s leading scorer Ben Rafe, with 22 points and four threes, each contributed three balls in the opening period for Holtville.
After six points on three more buckets by Rafe, and a Vikings tight-fisted defensive effort, Holtville managed to close out the first quarter up 21-15.
In a slower paced second period, Kofa struck back with a three by Brian Montenegro and two made shots by Chuy Ortiz.
With only five points to show in the period on a three by Rafe and runner by Loya, the Vikings found themselves up merely two possessions with time winding down before halftime.
Zac Miller would drive in a layup for the Kings to make it a two point game and spark a 9-1 run with 3:46 left to go in the first half.
A three pointer from the right corner by Jeremy Smith, a pull up from the elbow by Ortiz, and a jump shot by Miller at the buzzer would be enough for Kofa to go into halftime with a 31-27 advantage.
Holtville went right back to work opening the second half with a 16-foot pull up by Rafe.
Kofa, unwilling to relinquish the lead, made a defensive statement in the third, leaving the Vikings vessel stranded in the water with six points. A more deliberate style of offense effectively yielded 13 points for the Kings and chewed up the clock giving them the lead 44-33 at the start of the final quarter.
Holtville picked up the offensive tempo in the fourth. Jesus Rios hit a three ball from the right corner and Loya drove in a layup, nailed a jumper, and scorched a three of his own contributing to a 10-4 Viking surge. The contest stood now at 48-43, with Kofa ahead and 3:44 remaining in the game.
The Kings remained resilient, utilizing their offensive tandem of Rios and Ortiz to outscore Holtville 8-2 in the final minutes of the fourth quarter and seal the 56-45 victory.
“The kids are improving and we are moving along,” said Antonio Ramos, Holtville’s head coach. “We played a higher division school and hung with them all the way to the half. We just need to finish it out. In the third quarter, we didn’t take shots that were open. We’re going to take more shots during practice to build our confidence. The kids don’t put their heads down, they play to the end of the game, and they play with heart, and that’s all I can ask for,” Ramos added.
The Vikings are now 7-7 after the defeat, but will have a clean slate to open up Desert League Conference play at home versus Palo Verde on January 17.