The Rapid City Stevens boys' basketball team hit on all cylinders for the weekend, capping it off with a dominating 91-61 win over Campbell County, Wyo., Saturday night at Carold Heier Gymnasium.
The Raiders led for much of the game, up by one at the end if one, extending its lead to 16 at halftime and 25 heading into the fourth quarter. They would go on to lead by as much as 35 points, shooting 53 percent from the field.
Although the Raiders are on a nice nine-game win streak, Stevens coach Chris Stoebner said it was their first complete game of the season.
“I have been stressing to the guys that we’re a really good basketball team if we put a full game together,” he said. “We did it today.”
Friday night Stevens ran past Sturgis in Sturgis. The Raiders are 9-1 on the season, winners of their last nine games.
It was a tight opening quarter as Alex Weaver's last second put-back put the Raiders up 17-16.
It was all Stevens the rest of the way. Leading 24-21, Stevens shut down the Gillette team and outscored the Camels 15-2 in the final five minutes for a 39-23 advantage.
A three-point play by Gib Elder put the Raiders up 44-27 early in the third and Stevens outscored Gillette 20-11 in the quarter for a commanding 59-24 lead with one period to play.
The Stevens reserves picked up the pace as well in the final period and the Raiders settled for the 30-point victory.
“Even early on the shots they (Gillette) hit were tough,” Stoebner said. “The last few games — even (Friday) night in Sturgis — defensively we have been real good, we really have. Friday night we didn’t play particularly well offensively, and tonight we did. You can see what happened.”
Balance has been a key for the Raiders this season without high individual scorers like they had last season with Mason Archambault and Jacob Martin.
At the same time, they didn’t score 91 points last season in a game either.
Friday night the Raiders did it after senior starter Will Moore twisted an ankle in the first quarter and didn’t play the rest of the way.
Weaver stepped up and had a big game, leading the way with 16 points and 10 rebounds.
“Alex came in and gave us great minutes … our whole bench did,” Stoebner said. “When we can get that balance, we are tough to beat.”
Dawson Paulsen led the Raiders with 20 points and seven rebounds, hitting 3-of-7 3-pointers. Elder added 15 points and Cooper Bowman chipped in with 12 points and seven assists. Twelve Raiders got in the scoring column.
“Everyone contributed in this game. When Will (Moore) went down, a lot of people stepped up, so that was good for the team,” Weaver said. “We don’t have one true scorer that leads the team. Anyone can step up and lead the team, but we have a lot of people who can score, like 10 points, and contribute.”
Stoebner added they are still looking for that depth … who is going to step up, who is six, seven and eight.
“Everybody played well. Josh (Schumacher) hit some 3s; our bench played well,” he said. “That is the key for us, to be able to rest some guys and not have to play them so many minutes for the second half of the season.”
Trey Hladky paced the Camels, 7-4, with 17 points, with Tyler Neary adding 12 points.
While things are going well for the Raiders, Stoebner said they are not a finished product just yet. That, he added, is a great thing as a coach.
“We have a lot of work to do,” he said. “We have to get more consistent offensively, and pretty consistent defensively. It’s a long season to go and we have a stretch here where we are playing good teams. We’ll find out where we are at in a couple of weeks.”
The Raiders have some tough games ahead, including the first of two big matchups against unbeaten Rapid City Central.
“It lights a fire under us knowing that our cross-town rival hasn’t lost a game,” Weaver said. “We just keep trying to win. We lost to O’Gorman and we don’t want to feel that again.”
The two teams meet for the first time on Feb. 2.
“I can’t wait,” Weaver said with a smile.
In the meantime, the Raiders are at Douglas Tuesday and Sioux Falls Roosevelt and O’Gorman next weekend.
Stevens girls drop second straight contest
The top-ranked Rapid City Stevens girls’ basketball team dropped its second game in two days, falling to Campbell County, Wyo., 50-44 Saturday at Carold Heier Gymnasium.
A big third quarter was enough to lift the Gillette team to the win. Stevens led 24-22 at halftime, only to see the Camels outscore the Raiders 14-8 in the third.
Gillette built a 10-point fourth quarter lead before the Raiders made a late run.
Stevens cut the lead to 45-42 on two free throws each from Grace Martin and Elizabeth Schaeffer.
It was still a three-point game before the Camels drew a foul with 7 seconds left on the shot clock and Baylee Hamlin hit both free throws with 38 ticks left.
The Raiders turned the ball over on their next possession and Gillette added one free throw to close the scoring.
"We had a couple of opportunities to get that stop, but our defense broke down in critical times,” Stevens coach Michael Brooks said. “We would work hard for 25 seconds of that shot clock, and then had one break down. It is something we have to learn from and something we have to get better at in practice, so we can finish these games."
As was the case in Friday's 45-40 loss to Sturgis, the Raiders struggled offensively, shooting just .333 from the field (15-of-45). Stevens failed to hit a 3-pointer in eight attempts.
Kyah Watson was the lone Raider to score in double figures with 16 points.
Stevens also turned the ball over 23 times.
There are little things Brooks said they have to fix, because they are in the game, and their effort is there. He said they have to stop second-guessing themselves as every team kind goes through a funk now and then, and he believes they are in somewhat of a funk.
“I think they understand their role, but being resound in their role and resolute; ‘I’m going to do this for the team,’” he said. “We had some people passing up open shots, and then get called for traveling because they are not focused on getting eyes to the rim and catching up in a squared-up position.”
Rylee Hladky led Gillette, 9-6, with 15 points and Baylee Hamlin added 10.
“That is a really good team and they deserve a lot of credit; they really put us in some hard situations,” Brooks said.
The second-year Stevens head coach said for the Raiders to return to where they were previously at, it all starts in practice on Monday.
“We have to have more competition in practice; we have to be able to push each other a little harder,” he said. “I think some of the things we are messing up on will get fixed.”
The Raiders are at Sioux Falls Roosevelt and O’Gorman next weekend.