RAPID CITY — Cameron Hall came on strong for Rapid City Central in the final quarter, hitting four consecutive threes, to nail down a hard fought 69-52 win over the visiting Sturgis Scoopers.
The 20-point spread belies how hotly contested the first three quarters of the game were, as the Cobblers led only 31-27 at the half.Commenting on his undefeated team’s 11-0 record, Central Head Coach TJ Hay said, “At half time we been close, we been tied, but other teams just get tired, get a little bit worn down. If we stick to it, they have a tough time defending. We have kids contributing who aren’t really scoring. Mason McBride had four or five rebounds and two steals.”
Last year, the Scoopers came to Central and handed the Cobblers a loss. Central was without the services of their top player, Kailleb Walton-Blandon, and this year, Sturgis was without the services of one of their top scorers, Ryan Garland. Even without Garland, the Scoopers looked to be a formidable opponent.
Their top player, Dawson Geuke, was in fine form, scoring 26 points, despite having to sit out the previous game with the flu. Not a great athlete, Geuke has built himself into a great player brick-by-brick. He is a perfectionist, solid in every aspect of the game, but he is not without emotion, only his playing style is mechanical. At one point he felt the refs had missed a call, and muttered the wrong language, and he got a technical.
At that time, Sturgis led 24-22. Dylan Hay shot the technical free throws for Central and missed them both. Walton-Blandon scored a couple of buckets to put Central up 28- 24, and then 6-5 Connor Crane scored for Sturgis, was fouled, made the free throw, and it was 28-27, Central. This was as close as the game would get for Sturgis. Walton-Blandon hit a three and the half ended with Central up, 31-27.
Dylan Hay was the sparkplug that widened the Cobbler lead in the third quarter. He scored on a lay-up and then hit two consecutive threes. Walton- Blandon followed that with consecutive slam dunks, and Central went into the fourth quarter up 45-34.
Geuke refused to give up. He hit two consecutive threes to open the final eight minutes, and Sturgis was down only 45- 41. But that is when the scoreless Hall started raining in threes and Walton- Blandon’s athleticism took over in the lane. When the smoke cleared, Central had prevailed by twenty, 69-52.
“Cameron hit a couple of shots that got everybody all hyped up, gave us a lot of energy,” Walton-Blandon said. “We had three people in double figures, and that’s hard to stop. Geuke is a good shooter, we just figured out how to stop him, and everything else fell into place.”
So what fired up Cameron Hall? “I just needed to shoot my shots,” Hall said. “I just felt like I had to help my team and put my shots in.”
Central shot 54% to the Scoopers 39% and took a dozen more shots, which made up for being outscored by nine at the free throw line.
The next night Central went up to Gillette and came home with a 68-51 victory. They do not play again until Friday night, when they head for Sioux Falls to take on O’Gorman and Roosevelt. Both these schools are struggling at .500 but they should be fired up to face an unbeaten team.
(James Giago Davies is an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota tribe. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)