Posted: Monday, December 7, 2015 1:58 pm | Updated: 2:11 pm, Mon Dec 7, 2015.
By AARON KENNEDY firstname.lastname@example.org
ROSSVILLE – The Rossville Hornets boys’ basketball team scored 28 points in the fourth quarter to complete Saturday night’s come-from-behind victory over the visiting North White Vikings.
Down 50-41 at the end of the third quarter, Rossville junior forward Blake Miller nailed a 3-pointer to start the final period and followed it up with a successful drive to the basket. After Clinton Hendress scored to push the Vikings lead back to six points, senior guard Enrique Rangel cut it down to two points with back-to-back scores. Javier Benitez made one of two foul shots with 5:08 remaining in the game to put the Vikings up, 53-50, but the Hornets answered with an 11-point run capped by a Miller 3 that put Rossville up 61-53 with 3:44 remaining.
The Vikings were able to trim the Rossville lead to just two points with 3:14 remaining, but the Hornets outscored them 8-4 in the final two minutes.
“The kids did not give up. They don’t. They keep battling,” Rossville head coach Cory Dunn said. “(The Vikings) are big, and they are wide. They are even bigger than they appear on paper. They have some great kids who play hard and attack the basket well, but I thought our defense was good tonight. We made the plays down the stretch and finally started making shots.”
The Hornets scored just nine points in the second quarter.
“It’s not that we were not taking good shots in the first half. We just couldn’t make anything,” Dunn said. “I am really proud of how hard they were competing down the stretch. They played lots of minutes this weekend. When you get to that point, it’s all about heart, and these guys have a lot of heart when they play. Even when they weren’t making shots in the first half, they were still competing and doing the things they need to do in the first half. It just shows what kind of kids they are and how hard they are willing to work.”
Miller finished with a game-high 23 points and led the Hornets with 13 rebounds.
“Blake hit that big 3,” Dunn said. “He had several steals in the second half, disrupted several shots and got key rebounds. He was just everywhere for us in that stretch. The great thing is that they are all used to that. They feed off it and it becomes contagious for all of them. Harrison Whiteman got some great putbacks, Enrique then started getting several steals. They feed off each other and it is nice when they do that.”
Like many of the Hornets in the first half, senior guard Enrique Rangel couldn’t get many of his shots to fall in the first half, but he found his range in the second half, finishing with 17 points and some key steals. Jarred Warren also finished in double figures for Rossville with 11 points, while Whiteman added eight, Grant Mohler had six, and Brent Tonsoni finished with four.
“We were playing with six guys,” Dunn said. “We had two starters out. Our point guard hasn’t played yet this year, and Christian Howard got a mild concussion (Friday) night.”
Both teams struggled from the foul line, where Rossville made just eight of 21 attempts, and the Vikings also went 8-21.
“All of our guys are capable of making free throws. I don’t know if it is an epidemic or what,” Dunn said. “Thank goodness they were bad from the line too. If we could have made free throws, I think we would have been in the lead at halftime.”
North White scored the first points of the game and held the lead until the Hornets tied at 11 with 2:47 left in the opening quarter. There were four lead changes and another tie before the teams began the second quarter with North White up 18-16.
Rossville tied the Vikings once – at 22 – in the second period but never led, as North White sank three 3-pointers in the final minute-and-a-half to go into the half with a 31-25 lead. The largest North White lead came with 4:30 left in the third, when they held a 13-point advantage.
There was a full house Saturday night, and the Rossville fans made their presence felt during the Hornets’ fourth-quarter run.
“I still say this is one of the best places to play in north-center Indiana,” Dunn said. “If you want to see a good small-town atmosphere at a basketball game, this is the place to come. A lot of places on a Saturday night would not look like this. We had a pretty full house. It makes it fun. The fans are fun, and the hive does a great job. They help the players. When they are on a roll, they get everybody else going too.”
Rossville’s junior varsity won the early game 57-50.
The Hornets (3-1, 1-0 Hoosier Heartland Conference West) travel to Frontier High School on Friday for a 7:30 p.m. game.
“It is another conference opponent,” Dunn said. “They have been down in the past, but they just had a big win (Friday) night over Carroll. We are going to have to be ready to play. Hopefully, we can get back to full strength. There is a good chance we will. We are going to have to be ready to play good, smart, fundamental basketball against them.”
HORNETS 69, VIKINGS 63
Diener 4 3-4 11, Benitez 6 1-5 14, Ca. Hendress 2 0-2 5, Shane 9 4-9 22, Cobb 2 0-0 6, Cl. Hendress 2 0-1 5. Totals – 25 8-21 63.
Warren 4 2-6 11, Miller 9 1-1 23, Whiteman 4 0-1 8, Rangel 7 2-2 17, G. Mohler 2 1-5 6, 1 2-4 4. Totals – 27 8-21 69.
North White 18 13 19 13 – 63
Rossville 16 9 16 28 – 69
3-Point Goals – North White 5 (Cobb 2, Benitez, Ca. Hendress, Cl. Hendress), Rossville 7 (Miller 4, Rangel, Warren). Fouled out – none. Rebounds – North White 41, Rossville 41 (Miller 13), Total fouls – North White 19, Rossville 15.