Things worked out for the Randolph Rockets
Not all the good games are in the big city. I proved that on Thursday night with a drive down to Randolph where the Rockets edged Triton 48-44 to win their own holiday tournament. It was a spirited, fast-paced, physical…
Not all the good games are in the big city. I proved that on Thursday night with a drive down to Randolph where the Rockets edged Triton 48-44 to win their own holiday tournament. It was a spirited, fast-paced, physical game. “We’re trying to play a good brand of basketball down here,” coach Denny Trom said, “and get it up and down the floor.”
The Rockets and coach Trom had clobbered winless Trinity 73-40 while Triton surprised Cannon Falls 58-44 the previous night. That made Triton under first-year coach Melissa Young the best 2-7 team you’ve ever seen while the homestanding Rockets came into the game at 6-3.
Triton’s Kiara Boeck and Nicole Kress scored the game’s 1st 2 buckets for what would be the Cobras largest lead of the night at 5-0. For Kress, it was just the 1st of 5 (of 10) 3-pointers. But Randolph tied it up at 5-5. Over the next 32 minutes there would be 36 scores, and 26 of them would result in a tie or the lead exchanging hands. Randolph’s largest lead was 36-32 with 10:50 to go and, of course, the final score of 48-44.
Triton ran with Randolph and neither team was afraid to get physical. One key to the game was the defense of Randolph’s Lindsey Grant. She scored just 2 points herself but played “awesome defense” on Triton point guard Sydney Gilliland, a quick sophomore. Gilliland scored 20 the night before against Cannon Falls, and averages 11. Grant held her to just 5. “That was our plan, to take the ball out of the point guard’s hands,” Trom said, “and make somebody else beat us, and (Grant) did a heck of a job. She’s done that all year.”
And, of course, Kress almost was that somebody, making 4 of her 1st 5 3s on her way to 20 points. “We just weren’t closing out fast enough,” Trom said, “but even when we did close out, she was shooting over the top of us and knocking them down. We did a better job the 2nd half, but the 1st half we just let her roam the court, and we were talking about that at halftime and that helped.”
Kress was the only Cobra in double figures, while Randolph was led by junior point guard Andrea Splichal with 18, senior forward Alyssa Whitson with 11 and freshman forward Megan Erickson with 10. Splichal made 6-of-7 FT, including 6-of-6 inside of 4 minutes. She also had 3 assists and 2 steals, according to my unofficial numbers.
But, you should take my unofficial numbers for what they are. I had the final score at 49-44 as Randolph’s senior post Hannah Neil drained a pair of throws at :09. But, apparently one of them didn’t go through the basket or, maybe, it got waved off. Several FT were waved off due to lane violations. I watched Triton freshman forward Chloe Staub shoot FT during the warm up and she consistently jumped forward over the line. Sure enough, she lost a point doing exactly that at 4:30 of the 2nd half. I’m not sure her 1st FT shouldn’t have been waved off, too. (A minute earlier, Randolph’s Whitson missed a FT but the miss was waved off due to a Triton lane violation and, sure enough, Whitson made her next 2. So Triton loses a throw and Randolph picks up an extra one. If not for that it's 47-45.)
Both teams shot poorly, however—I had Randolph at 16-of-62 (26 percent) and Triton at 16-of-52 (31 percent). The Rockets had 18 offensive boards good for 8 2nd chance points. That and a 12-4 edge in FT were also important factors in Randolph’s home win. Triton made just 4-of-10 while the Rockets made 12-of-16.
Randolph is now 7-3 and champions of their 10th annual holiday tournament. “And we had a good crowd tonight,” Trom said, “so it worked out.” It’s part of a winning tradition that Trom is building in Randolph, where he and the Rockets are now 76-37 in his 4+ years at the helm.
One problem: The fiendishly difficult Section 1A, where they’re now 0-4. Now, at 7-3, they’re #7 in the section in QRF and today they would draw Kingsland, 6-4, in the 1st round. And, if they got the monkey off their back with a win in that game, Hayfield would be next. To win, they not only need to get it up and down, they need to continue to play a tough, physical defense. They did those 2 things Thursday night and like Trom said, “It worked out.”