Class AA: Roosevelt finds groove, routs Rapid City Stevens

Class AA: Roosevelt finds groove, routs Rapid City Stevens

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Class AA: Roosevelt finds groove, routs Rapid City Stevens

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The Roosevelt Rough Riders hadn’t played a basketball game since defeating Brookings in the district finals March 1, but they picked up right where they left off.

Shaking off any notion of first-round jitters, the top-seeded Riders rolled past Rapid City Stevens for a 73-43 victory in the Class AA state boys basketball tournament at the Arena.

“We had a great couple of weeks of practice, and we didn’t want to look past anybody,” said senior guard Tyler Howard, who helped the Riders (22-1) pull away by outscoring Stevens 41-21 in the second half. “We knew we had to come out with a lot of energy, and I think we did that.”

Senior center Brandon Boggs scored 23 points, junior guard Colton Kooima added 15 (behind five 3-pointers) and Howard had 13 as Roosevelt moved into tonight’s semifinals against Brandon Valley.

The Riders are favored to win their school’s first title since 2000 and had plenty of downtime before the tournament, raising questions about whether they would feel the heat of expectations. But having five senior starters and a four-year varsity player such as Howard took care of those concerns.

“We showed a few signs of rust, but in the second half we showed our true colors,” said coach Lee Taylor, whose team tallied 17 assists for the game and had 36 points in the paint.

“The experience we gained last year by getting to the state tournament was huge. We rely on those seniors and that experience to pull us through.”

Junior guard Steven Schaeffer scored 13 points and senior forward Brett Bennett added 10 for Stevens (10-14), which trailed just 32-22 at halftime after a late 3 from Sam McCloud.

But the Riders quickly took control coming out of the intermission, and the shooting of Kooima didn’t hurt. The junior sniper was 5-for-7 from beyond the arc, taking advantage of Stevens getting sucked in to defend against Roosevelt inside.

“My teammates find me and I shoot it, I guess,” shrugged Kooima. “That’s my role. When that first one goes in, it gives you confidence to keep shooting, and it feels good when they go in.”

The Riders also got 12 points from Nate Cole, whose 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter put Stevens in a 54-35 hole. Combined with Roosevelt’s full-court press, the improved shooting in the second half was too much for the Raiders to handle.

“One of the things they do really well is force you to do things you don’t want to do,” said Stevens coach Derris Buus, whose team will face Huron in today’s consolation round. “We didn’t panic much in the first half, but after that we took quick shots and struggled with their pressure.”

The Riders now look toward tonight’s showdown with Brandon Valley (17-6), a team the Riders defeated 85-55 in Brandon in December. Howard expects a much stiffer challenge this time around, but he and his fellow seniors have enough big-game experience to roll with the punches.

“It help with our composure and sticking together,” said the senior guard, who has exactly 1,000 career points to join John Sivesind (1,382, 1992-96) as the only Roosevelt players to reach that mark. “When other teams make runs, we can buckle up and gets defensive stops, and we count on that.”

R.C. STEVENS (10-14)

Schaeffer 6-13 1-2 13, Minnick 0-2 0-0 0, Vifquain 0-2 0-0 0, Wilson 1-3 0-0 2, Richard 2-3 0-1 4, McCloud 1-3 1-4 4, Simons 2-6 3-4 9, Bennett 3-6 2-2 10, Osthus 0-0 1-2 1. Totals: 15-38 8-15 43.

ROOSEVELT (22-1)

Clark 0-3 0-0 0, Howard 5-12 3-4 13, Cole 5-8 1-1 12, Moody 0-1 0-2 0, Phillips 3-4 0-0 7, Wilber 0-2 0-0 0, Leslie 1-1 0-0 3, Kooima 5-8 0-0 15, Kirkwold 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 27-55 10-13 73.

R.C. Stevens 9 22 35 43

Roosevelt 12 32 54 73

3-pointers: RCS 5-19 (Schaeffer 0-4, Minnick 0-1 Wilson 0-1 McCloud 1-3, Simons 2-6, Bennett 2-4), SFR 9-20 (Howard 0-4, Boggs 1-2, Cole 1-3, Phillips 1-1 Wilber 0-1 Leslie 1-1, Kooima 5-7, Spicer 0-2). Rebounds: RCS 24 (Wilson 5), SFR 32 (Howard 7). Assists: RCS 8 (3 with 2), SFR 17 (Cole 6). Total fouls: RCS 14, SFR 16.

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Class AA: Roosevelt finds groove, routs Rapid City Stevens
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