RAPID CITY — Between a broken hand and a bout with Influenza B, it was a rough few weeks for O’Gorman senior JP Costello.
But with two weeks between the district championship and the start of the state tournament, he was able to make a full recovery.
In Thursday’s Class AA quarterfinal, a fully-healthy Costello led all scorers with 24 points on 9 of 14 shooting to power the top-seeded Knights to a 61-47 win over No. 8 Harrisburg.
“JP has had a tough stretch,” coach Derek Robey said. “I’m really happy for him, I’m really happy for all the seniors.”
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“This last month has been kind of crazy,” Costello said. “But it felt great to be back out there, especially at the state tournament. It’s extra special.”
Costello was joined in double figures by Matt Cartwright, who registered 11 points and three assists, and Joey Messler, who stuffed the statsheet with 10 points, five assists, three blocks and three steals.
As a team, O’Gorman shot 51 percent from the field and out-rebounded Harrisburg 34-28.
Harrisburg, which entered as one of the state’s hottest teams, hit the ground running, grabbing a 14-12 lead after the first quarter.
The Knights quickly regained in the second, eventually pulling ahead by as many as eight late in the period, but Harrisburg refused to fold, cutting the score to 29-25 just before the break.
“They’re a very feisty team, a dangerous team,” O’Gorman coach Derek Robey said. “We told the guys to keep their composure. Harrisburg does such a great job of getting out on streaks. Just keep your composure and handle the adversity, that’s where our emphasis was.”
“The funny thing is, we’ve been down quite a few times and had to find ways to get back into games and we’ve talked all season how there’s no 10-point possessions, so just be patient, trust your teammates, trust your offense,” Harrisburg coach Scott Langerock said. “Win three or four possessions and next thing you know, you’re back in the game. That’s kind of what we reminded them of and they did a very good job of responding to that.”
O’Gorman flexed its muscle and seized control in the second half, pushing its lead out to 10 midway through the third quarter.
Though the Tigers managed to make a couple pushes late in the period, O’Gorman maintained control, extinguishing each rally with relative ease.
“The first half, we didn’t play very smart,” Robey said. “We just had to clean some of that up in the second half. We got the ball down low to JP and he really had a good night down the stretch.”
Nick Hoyt led Harrisburg with 16 points. Teammates Wil Johnson and Justis Clayton both added nine points, with Johnson adding four assists and four steals to his final line. As a team, Harrisburg shot 29 percent from the field and went 5-for-18 from behind the arc.
Next up for O’Gorman will be either a third meeting with Lincoln or its first encounter with Huron.
Follow Brian Haenchen on Twitter at @Brian_Haenchen .