Hornets’ late push stings Gophers
Posted: Sunday, February 9, 2014 2:50 pm | Updated: 5:17 pm, Sun Feb 9, 2014.
BY JIMMY GILLISPIE firstname.lastname@example.org
ROSSVILLE – Just as Clinton Prairie climbed back within two possessions, the more-experienced Rossville boys’ basketball team went on a 15-0 run before winning the rivalry game and remaining unbeaten in the Hoosier Heartland Conference.
CP cut the lead to six points in the middle of the third quarter. Then Rossville finished the game on a 22-5 run that lasted the final 11 minutes. Rossville put the Gophers away with the final spurt as it won 61-38 on Saturday night.
“This was definitely a big win,” Rossville senior Brandon Tonsoni said. “They’ve improved a lot so to come out here and beat them is a quality win, especially for the conference standings. We’ve clinched at least a share of the conference now. Then it’s a sectional opponent, too, so we might see them down the road.
“We have a lot more years on them,” he said. “They are a good team and they’ll good in a couple years. They are just young. It’s definitely good to beat a quality team who is improving.”
Rossville improved to 10-4 with Saturday night’s victory. The Hornets also improved to 4-0 in the HHC, with one conference game remaining Feb. 17 at Clinton Central.
“Before the game we talked about how we could control our destiny with a win tonight,” Rossville head coach Dave Mosson said. “It’s also a county rivalry. We’re also undefeated at home so far this year. Those are the three things we touched on pre-game.
“We held a pretty good team to 38 points,” he added. “They have kids that can score. I thought we played well defensively tonight.”
The Gophers dropped to 5-7 on the season, after starting it 0-4. They are 2-2 in the conference with their final HHC game on Feb. 21 at Tri-Central.
“We missed some shots tonight,” CP head coach Ryne Smith said. “We cut it to eight late in the third quarter and then (Rossville) took off. We took some bad shots in that stretch after we got it to that point.”
Prairie fell behind early and never led Saturday. After trailing by double digits most of the game, Prairie cut a 13-point deficit to six in less than two minutes. CP junior Merrick McGraw sank two free throws before sinking a three-pointer. Then freshman Drew Scott scored on an assist from senior Austin Martin, cutting Rossville’s lead to 39-33.
“We didn’t follow some scouting report things and we did some stupid stuff,” Smith said of his team’s first half play. “That’s what happens against a good team. I thought we’d be able to get it to five by the end of the third quarter, but we didn’t do that.”
Seconds after CP cut the lead to six points, Rossville junior Kyle Bordner sank two free throws. Then seniors Austin Meyers, ET Brenneman and Tonsoni each scored a bucket during the final 2:12 of the third quarter. Rossville ended the quarter with an 8-0 run, taking a 47-33 lead.
“We wanted to extend the lead coming out of halftime,” Mosson said. “We made couple of adjustments, including playing more up on Morris. I thought we did a good job on him the second half. Defensively, our matchup zone was good in the fourth quarter.”
Tonsoni agreed with his coach.
“We just kept playing our game,” he said. “They made a little run and hit a couple threes. Then we started playing our game, which is getting stops and easy buckets. Then the game just took over itself.”
The Hornets continued pulling away from the Gophers in the fourth quarter. The Hornets added 14 points until the Gophers made a field goal. CP sophomore Kale Morris sank a three-pointer with 2:22 remaining to score the final points of the game.
“They’re a tough matchup,” Smith said. “ET Brenneman is tough to guard. Tonsoni is a very good shooter. We struggled and I think they wore us down.”
Tonsoni and Brenneman were two of three Hornets in double figures. Tonsoni led all players with 22 points. Junior Clayton Howard and Brenneman scored 12 and 10 points, respectively. The Hornets made 26-of-47 shots, including 60 percent (24-of-40) from two-point range.
Morris led CP with 15 points. McGraw added 10 points for the Gophers. As a team, they made 12-of-43 field goals, including 7-of-25 from three-point range.
CP will play tonight at Covington (12-1). Rossville’s next game is Thursday at home against Attica (7-7).