The Rams haven't been to state since 1975. Their 2-0 start have people believing things could change this year.
Expectations are just expectations, especially with the Ingraham boys basketball program.
The Rams have long had a losing tradition and not reached state since 1975. Everyone inside the program and on the outside expects that to change.
Junior center Mitchell Saxen, with 24 points and 10 rebounds, helped fifth-ranked Ingraham take a big leap forward early in the season and turn back Franklin 74-65 under boiler-room pressure late in a Metro League game on Friday night at Franklin High School.
The Rams improved to 2-0, with both wins coming against Metro teams. So far, Ingraham is getting a passing grade with the new-found expectations and particularly in the face of the Quakers’ (3-1, 2-1 Metro) fourth-quarter, full-court pressure.
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“We’re just playing as a team right now, and lock up defensively,” said Saxen, whose team led by as many as 15 points but only lead 69-65 after Franklin’s Julius Silvano hit two free throws with 1:01 left. “We used to not have that defensive pride where we need to make a stop every possession. Everybody’s locking up and pressuring the ball, and that gives us confidence on offense.
“We haven’t really won a lot in the past, so it’s good for us to learn how to close out games like that one. We’ve got to iron out a few things.”
The Rams made 5 of 6 free throws in the final 41.5 seconds to close out the victory like a veteran team even though they really aren’t one yet.
“The crazy thing is we’ve got a couple of guys, transfers (Latrell Jones and Sahron Selmon), who are out right now who are really good and would be starters for us,” Saxen said. “So with them, I think we can make a really big run and hopefully get to state and win that thing.”
The Rams turned the ball over late in the fourth quarter to let Franklin have some hope of completing the comeback but ultimately took care of business.
Franklin senior Maurice Barnett led all scorers with 28 points despite some first-half foul trouble.
Senior point guard Malik Johnson handled the ball down the stretch and hit four free throws in the final 14 seconds.
The Rams are one of five Metro teams ranked in the The Seattle Times Class 3A top-10 rankings. They opened Metro play on Tuesday with an impressive 79-60 win at Seattle Prep.
The Quakers have won three close games to open the season in a five-day span, topping Nathan Hale 73-69, Stadium 79-78 and Cleveland 74-67 on Tuesday. Maurice Barnett had 48 points in Saturday’s win over Stadium and hit the game-winning, buzzer-beating three-point shot from just inside halfcourt.