Rossville got some timely defensive plays late and enough plays on the offensive end to hold off visiting North White, 54-52, on Saturday in a boys basketball game filled with foul calls and a couple momentum-changing technicals against the Hornets.
With the score tied at 51, senior Dirk Shaw blocked a shot by the Vikings’ Cale Robertson under the bucket with a minute left that was corralled by Rossville’s Luke Meek who was immediately fouled. Meek hit two free throws to make it 53-51 and on North White’s next possession freshman Kaden Del Real snuck behind Hunter Pogue and tied him up with 40 seconds left to give the Hornets the ball back.
“That was a big block,” Rossville head coach Cory Dunn said. “We had some really good defensive stands there late.”
Del Real was seeing his first significant varsity playing time after being inserted in the fourth quarter of the tight game.
“He played a little bit last night along with all the other JV players, but that was really his first pressure varsity experience,” Dunn noted. “We were up 20 when he playing last night. It was a huge play when he tied them up and he didn’t turn the ball over which is what we were having trouble with. It was good to see that.”
Some tense moments remained before the Hornets could secure the victory though as they missed two free throws with 25 seconds left before Shaw forced a tie up with 13 seconds remaining.
A foul was called on the in-bounds play and Robertson hit a free throw to make it a one-point game before missing the second with another jump ball resulting. Possession went to the Vikings with the explanation from the scoring table being that because the last foul happened before the ball was inbounded possession didn’t change over to the Hornets.
North White’s Trey Cobb missed a shot on the in-bounds with Meek fouled with eight seconds left, hitting one of two free throws to make it 54-52 and the Vikings’ Nate Miller missed a good look at 3 just before the buzzer to give Rossville their second win of the weekend.
“Varsity got two wins and JV got two wins (for the weekend),” Dunn said.” We had to eek this one out tonight but we made just enough plays down the stretch, made some big buckets and finally made some free throws that sealed it up for us.”
There were 46 fouls called (25 against Rossville) and 47 free throws shot (27 by North White) in the contest.
“Tonight you couldn’t even touch a guy on the drive,” Dunn noted. “They were going downhill super-hard. It’s hard not to have some contact and if you breathed on them you were getting a foul.”
He went back to the foul calls in relation to the final foul shots taken by North White.
“We got some big boards,” he said. “We missed the one on the free throw (that resulted in a tie up), but once again I don’t understand why they are calling that stuff out(side) here and a kid just two-hand shoves our guy through the pad to get the rebound. I don’t know.”
The Hornets looked like they might blow the Vikings out early leading 21-11 after the first quarter with Shaw hitting two 3s early and eight points in the period. Rossville trailed 9-8 before going on a run to end the quarter with Meek hitting two 3s (with one just before the buzzer) in the last minute.
North White cut the lead to 21-20 with nine straight points to start the second before Damon Shaw broke the seal on the basket for Rossville with 4:36 remaining and the Hornets pushed back to a 28-22 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, Rossville appeared to take control again leading 38-27 with 5:05 left in the period, but a charge call on Jayden Brown where he had a possible 3-point play on a breakaway changed the momentum when Brown received a technical foul.
“He didn’t say anything to the official,” Dunn said. “He was just mad at himself and slapped the floor.”
Robertson hit the two free throws on the tech to start a 10-point run for the Vikings to make it 38-37 before Evan Price got a bucket off a Damon Shaw pass and Jesse Cornell hit a mid-range pull-up at the buzzer to give Rossville a 42-37 lead going into the final quarter.
“Things kind of changed and they went to that half-court zone and we were not very confident with the basketball,” Dunn said of the Viking comeback. “We weren’t getting the ball to where it should be and it was leading to some easy turnovers for them.”
With North White in the double bonus in the third quarter and Rossville early in the fourth, the game devolved into a free-throw shooting contest in the fourth quarter with the Vikings scoring 11 of their 15 points at the line.
Bentley Buschman scored on a drive with 6:15 left to give North White the lead, 43-42, with 6:15 left before Cornell put Rossville back up on a put-back rebound on the next possession. Soon after Dunn received a tech and North White hit one of two free throws to tie it before Buschman (11 of 15 from the line for the night with a game-high 22 points) hit two free throws to give the Vikings the lead 46-44 with five minutes left.
“I think he was looking to give one,” Dunn said of the technical. “He warned us and he thought the coaches were screaming at him, but I told him it was the whole side (of the crowd). Then, he came back to talk to us and I told him ‘then just call the travel’ and he Td me up.”
Cornell hit one of two free throws to get the Hornets within one and Dirk Shaw scored off an assist from Price to get the lead back. Reid Douglas hit a big corner 3 with 2:36 remaining to take the lead back after two more Buschman free throws before Buschman hit two more to tie it up again.
Each team hit a free throw setting up the final minute beginning with Shaw’s big block.
“We almost lost the game on turnovers (17 to 11), but we won the game on the boards (41 to 29),” Dunn said. “We outrebounded them big time tonight and that’s why we won. We didn’t take care of the ball or shoot the ball well, but we did rebound the ball well tonight.
“We had four guys in double figures. Dirk had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Luke Meek had 14 points and eight rebounds, so almost a double-double and he shot well from the free throw line.”
Damon Shaw had 12 points and Cornell 10 respectively while Douglas had four and Price two to complete Rossville’s scoring.
Dirk Shaw had two blocks, two assists and two steals to complete his stat line. Other stat contributions came from Damon Shaw (four assists, three rebounds and a steal), Cornell (eight rebounds and two assists), Douglas (five rebounds and two assists), Price (four rebounds, two assists and a steal), Griffin Williams (two rebounds), Brown (a rebound) and Del Real (a steal).
Cornell and Dirk Shaw led Rossville with 11 points each in a Friday 59-43 win at Tri-County, with Damon Shaw and Douglas adding nine each. Ten Hornets scored in the game. Dirk Shaw had team-highs of 11 rebounds and five steals with Douglas dishing out a team-high four assists in the victory.
Rossville (2-1) travels to Frontier on Friday and Western on Saturday for their next games. Both contests tip off at 7:30 p.m.