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A cardinal rule at the end of the game is never leave the backside open for your opponent.
It was a rule Ringling’s Ryan Lester was more than happy to break Friday night as his buzzer-beating layup sunk the Empire Bulldogs at home, giving RHS a 52-50 victory.
“We were trying to take the last shot and didn’t have any time-outs left,” Empire coach Ryan Green said about the last six seconds of the fourth quarter. “We didn’t take the last shot like we should have to win the game. They (Ringling) got the rebound with about seven seconds left and dribbled through us. Then, we left a man open backside and that’s the number one rule you can’t do is let someone get to the basket and we did.”
As time winded down in the fourth quarter, the Bulldog faithful were on the edge of their seats as Empire brought the ball down and began passing it around.
With less than 10 seconds remaining, Empire’s Cordell Setters put up a jump shot which bounced off the front end of the rim, leaving Ringling’s Taner Richardson to grab the rebound.
Down the court the Blue Devils went as everyone expected Richardson to go it alone, before he quickly found Lester underneath the basket wide open.
After two bounces on each side of the iron, the ball fell through the nylon as the Blue Devils had claimed victory.
It was perhaps a harsh ending to a contest which saw the Bulldogs put on a solid offensive and defensive performance throughout the game.
Scoring was not at a premium in the first quarter though, as Empire led 9-7 going into the second.
Both teams found themselves tied at 24-24 going into the halftime break, after Empire fought its way out of a first half deficit.
Ringling held a 38-32 lead going into the fourth quarter, where the Bulldogs never led by more than two points.
Evan Whitt led the scoring for the Bulldogs (4-17) with 21 points, with Setters scoring 20 points on the night.
Braden Hill added four points, with Freddy Larsen putting in two points.
Ringling was led by Taner Richardson with 20 points, 18 of which came from three-point range.
Tyler Grace and Lester each added seven points on the night, with Dakota Stapleton putting in six points.
Empire will complete its regular season schedule Monday night with a home contest against Walters.
Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m.