R-P boys end a successful season

TCR/DAWN HAUGE Senior Landon Skalet led the Trojans with 25 points in the final game of his high school career.
By : 
Chad Smith
Tri-County Record

The Rushford-Peterson boys’ basketball season came to an end in the Section 1A tournament semifinals. The No. 3 seed Trojans lost to the No. 2 seed Randolph Rockets 70-53 on Wednesday night, March 13, at the Mayo Civic Auditorium in Rochester. The first season under head coach Chris Drinkall was successful, with the team finishing at 18-11 overall and just two games shy of a return trip to the state tournament.

R-P vs. Randolph

The season ended in a Section 1A tournament semifinal where the Trojans found themselves playing from behind all night. Randolph shot the ball extremely well and wore down the Trojans in the second half.

The Rockets held only a seven-point lead at halftime (27-20) in the Mayo Civic Arena. Despite R-P improving its offensive output by 13 points after halftime, the Rockets still held a ten-point scoring edge (43-33) in the second half.

In spite of playing from behind, often by double-digits, Drinkall said his team never quit playing hard. “As a coach, that’s really nice to see,” he said. “No matter what the score was, we played hard all the way through till the final buzzer.

“We actually started out okay. We were only down seven points at halftime, but they came out and started the second half on a 10-0 scoring run. That put the lead up to 17 points before we battled back to get it down to ten. That happened a couple more times in the second half and we just couldn’t get over that hump.

“You’ve got to give Randolph a lot of credit because they shot the ball really well, especially from the three-point line.”

The Trojans hit 45% of their shots (22 of 48) from the field. As was the case most of the season, the team did its best work inside the arc, hitting 17 of 33 shots (51%) from two-point range. They also hit five three-point shots in 15 attempts. The Rockets’ defense made things a challenge for R-P all night long.

“Every time we caught a pass, every time we took a shot, they always had a hand in our face,” Drinkall said. “Eventually, they’re defense wore us down a bit in the second half.

“They were really balanced,” Drinkall added. “They started all seniors and played a junior off the bench. It’s really hard to stop five guys that could all shoot the ball equally well. They didn’t have a ton of size, but they were athletic and fast.”

In his final game wearing a Trojan basketball uniform, Landon Skalet led the squad with 25 points (10 of 15 shooting). He hit three of his six attempts from outside the arc. Luke O’Hare added nine points, a team-high five rebounds, and three assists. Justin Ruberg added seven points and tied O’Hare for the team lead with five boards.

“Despite the loss, we had a really good season,” Drinkall said. “We had a lot of young kids that got thrown into the varsity mix probably a little sooner than they should have. We battled and competed all year, which I’m really happy about.”

The Trojans finished with 20 rebounds (8 offensive), 11 assists, only three steals, and 12 turnovers.

“We have work to do as we look ahead to next year,” Drinkall said. “We lose Skalet, who’ll leave behind some big shoes to fill. We played 7-8 guys consistently and most of them will be coming back next season. We only played one senior, one junior, and the rest were just sophomores and freshmen.

“The cupboard is definitely not bare,” he added. “However, we’ve got work to do, No one will just hand us the section title.”