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The district tournament playoffs are just over a week away and the Santa Fe Raiders have served notice it will be a three-way race this year.
It was one of those games that neither the Raiders nor the Red Devils could get their game going at full strength due to the whistles and foul shooting by the Red Devils again.
The Raiders jumped out to an early lead as they led the game by a 33-25 margin at half time.
As the Red Devils began to stiffen their defense as the second half got under way, the Raiders continued to make their free throws, as the Red Devils again struggled at the line.
The Red Devils found their offense with out going to the free throw line as they took their first lead in the game with just over three minutes remaining at 52-50.
Deterion Ross pulled the Red Devils to their largest lead at 57-52 with just under two minutes left in the game. The Raiders then began to foul on every possession and the Red Devils went cold missing 5 of 7 free throws down the last two minute stretch.
The Raiders countered with layups as they pulled the score to 61-59 with 22 seconds remaining. Tre Wilson countered with a short jump shot to give the Red Devils a 63-59 cushion with 11 seconds remaining. The Raiders again moved the ball in for a lay up cutting the score to 63-61 as time ran out.
The Red Devils went to the free throw line and shot 49 times during the game and missed on 23 attempts. The Red Devils downed this same Raiders team by 19 points just three weeks earlier.
The Red Devils will host the Bradford Tornadoes Jan. 27 and this game will be for the regular season district title and decide who will host the District Playoff Tournament.
The Red Devils will have a week to prepare for the big 6' 10' Bradford center, who poured in 34 points against the Red Devils in their first meeting won by Bradford.
The Red Devils also need to improve on their free throw shooting as they have missed far too many free throws in their last five games.
Game time for the district showdown Friday is 7:30 p.m.
In earlier game action, the Williston JV boys had to hold on after giving up a 12 point lead in the fourth quarter to the Santa Fe JV boys. The JV Red Devils won the game 47-46 to up their season record to 8-3 for the year.