R-P boys win all three last week


TCR/DAWN HAUGE Senior point guard Landon Skalet had one of his best games to date, leading the Trojans with 20 points and ve rebounds versus Spring Grove last week.
By : 
Chad Smith
Tri-County Record

The Trojans’ boys’ basketball team had a solid week, winning all three games they played. The Trojans went to Spring Grove on Monday, Feb. 4, to win a battle of state-ranked teams. They returned home the next night for a conference win over Fillmore Central, then ended the week with a road-win at Winona Cotter/Hope Lutheran. The wins boosted the R-P record to 15-6 (8-4 TRC) with just five games left in the regular season.

R-P vs. SG 69-65

The Trojans played one of their best games of the season in one of the area’s toughest gyms. The Trojans, ranked No. 14 in the state Class A poll, faced the No. 8 Spring Grove Lions in a game that was tight from tip-off to buzzer.

The Trojans led the game by just three points at halftime (36-33). The second half was just as tight, with the Trojans outscoring the Lions 33-32 after the break to pull out a four-point, 69-65 win. Trojans’ coach Chris Drinkall said it’s always good to beat a potential Section tournament opponent.

“We played really well in all phases of the game,” he said.  “Everybody contributed to the win, including four guys in double-figures. Obviously, when you play a team like Spring Grove almost every year in the section tournament, you keep the regular season game circled on your calendar.”

The tenth-and-final tie was broken with back-to-back Spring Grove turnovers on one end and two Trojan dribble-drive baskets on the other end with just 2:30 left in the game. R-P only made one more basket, but kept the lead by hitting six of nine free throws in the final 30 seconds.

The Trojans hit 26 of their 51 shots (51%) from the field. While they did most of their damage from two-point range, they were a solid six for 16 (37%) from outside the arc. The team also needed every one of the 11 free throws they hit (16 attempts).

Senior point guard Landon Skalet had one of his best all-around games to date, leading the team with 20 points (8 of 11 shooting) and five rebounds (team-high 3 assists, 1 steal). Luke O’Hare was next with 17 points, along with four rebounds, tied for the team-lead with three assists, and a team-best three steals. Kobe Lind scored 14 points and grabbed four rebounds, while Justin Ruberg added 11 and four rebounds.

All-SEC point guard Alex Folz led all scorers with 25 points (six treys). Noah Elton added 14 points, and Ethan Matzke added 11 and seven assists.

The Trojans grabbed 26 rebounds, 10 on the offensive end. Rebounding was a group effort with eight Trojans contributing to the total.

“This was a game we looked forward to,” Drinkall said. “It seems like a playoff preview for at least eight of the last ten years. We’ve played Spring Grove a lot in the old sub-section final game.”

R-P tallied 12 assists, six steals, and just 11 turnovers against the Lions defense.

R-P vs. FC

The Trojans returned home the next night for a conference game against Fillmore Central. After such a big win the night before, it was a potential letdown game for the Trojans. Despite a slow start, Drinkall said they didn’t look past FC at all.

“We were a little bit sluggish in the first half,” he said. “It’s hard for kids to go from beating Spring Grove the previous night to playing a winless Fillmore Central Falcons squad. You have to give Fillmore Central a lot of credit. They came out, played hard, and they never quit.”

The Trojans were up 31-28 at halftime. Drinkall said the team came out on a 20-2 scoring burst to start the second half and open up the game. R-P outscored the Falcons 38-19 in the second half to finish up with the 69-42 win.

Once again, the Trojans hit more than half their shots, going 28 for 50 from the field (56%). The story was their inside scoring, torching the nets from two-point range by hitting 64 percent (22 of 34) of their shots. They were also solid from the outside, making six of 16 three-pointers (a solid 37%). R-P also hit seven of 11 shots from the free throw line.

Lind had his best game of the season to date, leading the team with 23 points on a hot-shooting night (9 of 10 overall, 3 for 3 outside the arc). Lind added four assists and three steals. Ruberg added 10 points and five rebounds, while Vinnie Mason also scored 10 points.

The Trojans came up with only 18 total rebounds, understandable when a team hits more than half their shots. Eight of those rebounds were on the offensive end.

The defense really came to play, finishing with 18 steals (Skalet 5, Olson 4) while the offense turned it over just 13 times in the game.

R-P vs. Cotter

The Trojans swept the two-game regular-season series against the Ramblers after winning the first game easily in early December. Drinkall said the Trojans jumped out to a 14-0 lead early and never looked back. R-P doubled up the Ramblers at halftime, leading 35-16 at the half. The Trojans won the second half by ten points (23-13) and the game 58-29.

The Trojans hit 19 of 44 shots (43%) from the field. The Trojans have clearly recovered from earlier inconsistencies at the free throw line, and hit an impressive 16 of 19 at the stripe (84%). 

Skalet led the way with 13 points and a team-high seven rebounds, O’Hare added 11, and Ruberg had nine points and five rebounds.

The defense came up with another 15 steals (Skalet 7) against only seven turnovers.

After starting the season with two wins in their first five games, the Cotter win made it 10 wins in the 13 games since then. Drinkall said the team really flipped a switch in the win against state-ranked Mayer Lutheran back on Dec. 15.

“I think it’s a case of getting in a groove playing with each other,” Drinkall said. “A lot of our kids hadn’t played a varsity game before this season. Landon was our only real veteran. Luke (O’Hare) played a bit at the end of last season. We had so many new pieces that we were trying to find where each guy fit in the rotation.

“You have to remember too that of the first five games, four of them were against good teams,” he pointed out. “Moose Lake-Willow River, Caledonia, La Crescent-Hokah, and Decorah (IA) were all good teams. After we got through those games, our kids really seemed to get in sync with each other.”

Schedule

The Trojans first game this week was on the road vs. Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau on Monday, Feb. 11. The Trojans host Caledonia on Friday, Feb. 15, and look to avoid dropping the regular-season series.

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