Sioux Falls O'Gorman is beginning to look like one of the hotter Class AA boys' basketball teams in the state. That was evident Friday night at Naasz Gymnasium.
Rapid City Central was hanging tough and trailed by just a point or two early in the second period before O'Gorman exploded for an 18-2 run to close things out and lead by 18 at halftime. It was more of the same in the second half and the Knights rolled to a 67-38 win.
Earlier in the girls' game, top-ranked O'Gorman easily ran past Central 54-29.
That final five-minute stretch in the second period was the difference in the boys' game, Central coach TJ Hay said. When O'Gorman got hot, the Cobblers went cold.
"It was a three-point game and four minutes later it was an 18- or 19-point game. Good teams do that when you turn the ball over and miss free throws," Hay said. "We missed a bunny and we missed three straight front ends of one-and-ones. That's eight points right there. I told them at halftime that that right there stops the bleeding and makes it an entirely different game in the second half."
The Knights, coming off a 55-51 win over Matthew Mors and the defending state champion Yankton Bucks, got strong inside and outside play from 6-foot-5 Akoi Akoi and sharp shooting from Zach Norton, turning a 19-17 lead into a 37-19 halftime advantage.
"I talked to the guys about, if we start getting into a rhythm offensively, it is because we were able to defend and score in transition," O'Gorman coach Derek Robey said. "It was a little tight, and in basketball, anytime a kid hits a shot, all of the sudden another kid hits a shot and it just opens it up. Once the game gets some separation, you play relaxed and I think that is what happened."
The Knights had 11 players get into the scoring column, with Akoi and Norton scoring 14 points each. O'Gorman shot 54 percent from the field (27-of-50) and hit 8-of-21 from beyond the 3-point line.
"They can knock down 3s and they play inside, they defend inside and they are physical," Hay said. "I didn't think we responded to how physical they play inside very well."
Robey was also pleased with how hard his team played defensively, and the adjustments they made. Their defense set up their offense.
"Central is really good with their bigs, and they do a great job of playing high around the perimeter," he said. "We tried to make some adjustments, and I thought our kids did that."
Erik Koehane led Central with nine points and Elijah Williams added six points and seven rebounds. Central shot just 42 percent from the field (13-of-31), missing all four of its 3-point attempts. The Cobblers were also just 12-of-21 from the free-throw line.
Hay said it was a good lesson for the Cobblers — a lesson learned the hard way. The loss was 6-6 Central's second straight after five consecutive wins. O'Gorman has won four straight and is 7-4 on the season.
"It shows where the upper echelon of South Dakota basketball is, and of course, you have to play more than 12 minutes to start the game," Hay said. "It's four quarters and we just played the first 12 minutes."
Hay said that they prepared for O'Gorman all week, and when his team comes into the locker room Saturday morning, they'll get ready for Sioux Falls Roosevelt, which blasted Rapid City Stevens by a similar score, 66-35.
At the same time, he said he is more concerned with his own team.
"Watching this game right here, we need to be more worried about what we're not doing, than what the other teams are doing," he said. "I thought we took a step back defensively tonight because we had a good week of practice and we were prepared for it, and they didn't do anything that we didn't work on all week. We just didn't get the job done."
After a slow start that saw the Knights open the season with losses to cross-town rivals Sioux Falls Roosevelt and Lincoln, their only other two losses since were to Findlay Prep, Nevada, and Minneapolis North.
"I told our guys to keep it in perspective, you're a good basketball team and things will start falling in place," he said after the team's four losses. "That's kind of what is happening now."
Central hosts Roosevelt at 2:30 p.m. and O'Gorman is at Stevens at 2:30 p.m.
Top-ranked Lady Knights overwhelm Cobblers
Sioux Falls O'Gorman won its seventh straight game in convincing fashion, jumping on Central from the get-go.
The Lady Knights led 15-3 at the end of one and 34-16 at the halftime break.
The O'Gorman defense did the rest int he second half, holding Central to just 13 points.
Emma Ronsiek, hitting 4-of-6 3-pointers, led O'Gorman, 9-1, with 14 points and Awoti Akoi added 12. The Lady Knights hit 9-of-21 3-pointers, to 3-of-12 for Central.
The Cobblers shot just 21 percent from the field (11-of-52) and hit 4-of-9 from the free-throw line. O'Gorman also held a commanding 43-21 rebounding edge.
Juneau Jones, Emma Avery and Morgan Sullivan all scored six points for Central.
The Cobblers, 6-6, hosts Sioux Falls Roosevelt today at 1 p.m. while O'Gorman is at Rapid City Stevens at 1 p.m.