Harrison’s Taylon Sondgerath and Bobby Rogers combined for 35 points as the Raiders held off a late Rossville challenge for a 60-56 victory in May Gymnasium last night.
The Raiders bounced back from a tough overtime loss to Lafayette Jeff last night to break a two-game losing streak. The Hornets could not match Sondgerath’s strength in the paint as he scored 20 points down low.
Rogers came off the bench to score 15 points as he was able to penetrate Rossville’s defense to get into the paint to score or dish off for assists.
“I had zero concern that we would come out and play hard after Friday night because the trust I have in our seniors,” Harrison coach Mark Rinehart said. “We knew that Taylon would have a chance to be successful in the paint. We took Bobby out of the starting lineup. He came in and had a great attitude, and he was the reason Taylon was able to score down low at times.”
Harrison’s effort overshadowed a 21-point performance by Rossville forward Brandon Tonsoni. Tonsoni, though, had to work hard for most of his points as Cole Smith hounded him for most of the game. Smith held Tonsoni scoreless in the third quarter.
“He’s seen that kind of defense all year and people trying to take him out of the game,” Rossville coach Dave Mosson said. “It’s a continuous process, but it’s a 21-game season and we’ll go back to the drawing board and see if we can’t correct some of those things.”
Harrison (7-6) held a 44-40 lead going into the fourth quarter and was able to increase the lead to 54-45 on a short Sondgerath jumper with 3:30 remaining in the game.
But Harrison missed four out of eight free throws down the stretch to leave a small crack in the door open for Rossville. Tonsoni connected on a 15-foot jumper and a 3-pointer with less than a minute left but it was too late.
Harrison’s ability to finish the second and third quarters proved to be Rossville’s undoing. E.T. Brenneman’s basket with 1:30 left before halftime gave the Hornets a 29-25 lead. But the Raiders rallied to score the last seven points of the period.
Five of the points came off a three-point play and layup by Sondgerath. Rogers added a 15-foot jumper during the rally.
“I would like to do anything to help my team get a win,” Sondgerath said. “We knew we had to attack the paint tonight. That was one of the keys to winning the game. We wanted to get points in the paint and get them in foul trouble. We had to bounce back and now we’re over .500 again.”
After plans to front Sondgerath fell apart, Mosson said the Hornets talked at halftime to back him and double him once the ball came inside, but that effort never seemed to materialize.
“When we go up against more physical kids, we don’t match their physicality at times,” Mosson said. “They were in our faces most of the night but I thought we battled well. Sometimes the things we talk about at halftime doesn’t always happen on the court and it’s something we have to get better at.”
Rossville held its last lead with 2:28 left in the third quarter on a Michael Gregorash layup, giving the Hornets a 40-38 edge. But after failing to extend the lead on its next two possessions, Rogers drained a 3-pointer and Evan Bond came off the bench to nail a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Raiders a 44-40 edge.
“Evan Bond hadn’t played in six weeks and he made two huge shots for us,” Rinehart said. “He doesn’t make those shots if he hadn’t kept himself engaged in what’s going on. That’s why it’s fun coaching these guys.”