St. Thomas More coach David Hollenbeck wasn't too pleased with his team after the Cavaliers win over Red Cloud Tuesday.
The Crusaders were hurt too, and not only by the loss.
The No. 2 ranked team in Class A topped the No. 5 ranked team 53-46, but a big loss hurt Red Cloud 10 seconds into the game when point guard and team leader Alejandro Rama left the game with a foot injury.
He went back to the locker room briefly, hopped back out to the bench on one foot, and sat on the bench but didn't return to the game.
Crusader coach Christian McGhee said he wasn't sure the severity of Rama's injury.
"He’s broke his foot before. I don’t know if it’s broke or not," he said. "We’re going to prepare like he’s not going to be there and hope him a fast recovery and hopefully we get him back soon."
Hollenbeck echoed McGhee's sentiments about Rama.
"You hate to see a kid with that kind of talent go down like that," he said. "He’s a great kid, wonderful talent and you hope he can come back."
With Rama out, the Cavaliers had a hard time breaking away until the third quarter, and when they did the Crusaders were able to come back.
Not helping Red Cloud's case, however, was the fact that Beau Donovan picked up three quick fouls and had to stay on the bench for most of the game.
"We don’t have a lot of experience outside of Ale. They just stepped up and played for each other," McGhee said. "It came from them, and it has to come from them. I can’t play for them, and at the end of the day, it’s got to come down to them. I was very happy with the way they kept their composure."
STM led 13-8 at the end of the first quarter and 23-16 at halftime.
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In the third quarter the Cavaliers built a 10-point lead at 31-21, and started to inch further and further away from the Crusaders. At the end of the third quarter the score was 41-27.
Still, Red Cloud didn't quit. It outscored STM 19-12 to cut into the lead, but it wasn't enough to pull out the win.
The Cavaliers drilled 10 3-pointers and were led by Ryan Wojcik, who had 18 points and Caden Casey, who had 15.
"I thought we settled too much for 3s when we had an obvious advantage on the inside," Hollenbeck said. "Our block-outs were atrocious, and then we didn’t step in and take enough charges. We have a couple of guys who are stepping out of the way right now and that has to change."
Red Cloud was led in scoring by Riyen Carlow, who had 14, followed by Jevon Hacker, who had 13.
"I’m really proud of the way our boys stepped up after losing Ale. I thought they played really, really hard," McGhee said. "It was tough because we’re not used to doing that, and STM is well coached and they run their stuff, they’re a great program. I don’t think anything went wrong. We played as hard as we could, but they’re a little more experienced than us and that probably was the difference."
Hollenbeck gave credit to Red Cloud, but also said the Cavaliers didn't have their best game on either side of the court.
"We maybe made just enough shots to win. We were terrible defensively, but that’s a credit to Red Cloud, they played hard and ran their offense very nice. They’re well coached," he said. "We just didn’t play with much energy. We were on our heels all night, that’s a credit to Red Cloud. We have a lot of work to do and we have to play a lot better down the stretch or we’re not going to win many games."
That stretch run for STM, 13-1, includes two games against Class AA ranked teams, as it closes the season out with Yankton and Brandon Valley.
Toughness will be preached at practice, he said, to prepare for those games and three other games against Sioux Falls Christian, Hill City, Hot Springs and Belle Fourche.
"We have to drill it more. That’s got to come in practice and that’s got to come from the coaches," he said. "We have to do a better job of getting them into position and toughening them up, that’s a fault of the coaches."
STM gets the stretch run going Saturday in Mitchell against Class A third-ranked Sioux Falls Christian. With or without Rama, Red Cloud, 12-4, hosts Hot Springs Saturday.