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Boys basketball: Rushford-Peterson falls to Randolph in Section 1A semifinals

March 14, 2019

ROCHESTER, Minn. — When you are a zone defense team and the opposing team is hot from beyond the arc, odds are it’s going to be a long defensive night. That’s exactly what the Rushford-Peterson boys basketball team ran into against Randolph on Wednesday night. Compound that with the Trojan’s inability to keep the Rockets off the offensive glass and it was simply too much to overcome, as Randolph ran away from the Trojans 70-51 in the MSHSL Section 1A semifinals at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minn.

Entering the night, Rushford-Peterson coach Chris Drinkall was worried about Randolph’s ability to crash the offensive glass, because it was a major issue earlier in the season when these teams met – a 64-46 victory for Randolph. Unfortunately the story was more of the same this time around. At halftime, the Rockets (26-2) had 10 more shots than the Trojans (1. Randolph would miss a shot then go after the offensive rebound hard with three, four players going after it. They seemed to always be first to the ball. They would corral the miss then kick it out to one of their many three-point shooters, who seemingly always knocked it down the second time or third time.

“We talked about it all week long,” Drinkall said when asked about Randolph’s offensive rebounding. “In December they had multiple offensive rebounds. They are athletic and go hard to the glass. We didn’t do our best job of boxing out. When a team gets two or three opportunities usually they score. I just think second chance points really costed us the game.”

Both teams struggled to get going in the first half combing to shoot 15 of 46 from the field, but the Rockets had knocked down six threes compared to just one for the Trojans to take a 27-20 halftime lead. That would be as close as the Trojans would be for the rest of the game because the Rockets came out of the half on fire knocking down five three-pointers in their first six second half possessions to push the lead from seven to 16. They were 11 of 29 from beyond the arc. The Trojans were just 5-of-12.

When the Trojans tried to take away the three, the Rockets pounded it inside with 6-foot-4 junior Isaac Stoesz. He scored in the paint on four straight possessions midway through the second half to help put the game away.

“It’s always tough to face a team that has five guys that can shoot the ball,” Drinkall said. “You have to be aggressive at the top and they have size and athleticism. They can go inside. So yeah it’s really tough to guard when you have an all-around good team. You have to guard everybody.

Landon Skalet did his best to keep the Trojans in it. Playing in his final game as a Trojan, the senior scored 18 of his game-high 25 points in the second half including a 6-0 spurt to trim Randolph’s lead to 42-32, but that would be the closest the Trojans would get in the second half. The problem was the Trojans could not get offensive production from anyone outside of Skalet.

Skalet was 10-for-15 from the floor.

The rest of the team? 11 of 27.

“Hats off to them they shot the ball well and played well defensively every shot we had was contested they didn’t give us any easy looks,” Drinkall said. “It seemed like they had six guys on the floor. We get past our guy then the next guy helps, the next guy helps. It was just a great job defensively for them.”