It's a mystery as who the hot hand will be for the Rapid City Christian boys' basketball team on any given night. The Comets, 10-1, have multiple scorers who can heat up depending on the opponent.
Friday night it was Jack Rosium, who scored 27 points as Christian rolled to a big win over Custer 71-53.
"Tonight was just an on night but it felt good, it felt really good," Rosium said. "I feel like our team is very balanced, so when one guy has an off night another guy steps up and scores a lot. I feel like we're very balanced that way."
It's something coach Kyle Courtney has noticed as well.
"I think that's the strength of our team. We have some guys who are our leading scorers, but we have a lot of guys on any given night that can step up and score for us when we need it," he said. "We don't have a lot of really outstanding athletes, we have a lot of good athletes that play well as a team. I don't think they care who gets the credit as long as the team does well."
The team got off to a hot start, which was important because Custer outscored Christian 31-22 in the second half. By the end of the first quarter, however, the Comets led 19-4.
"We knew that they were going to come out with some energy, we just didn't match it in the beginning," Custer coach Paul Kelley said. "Heck, before we knew it we were down 14-2. Give them some credit, they were doing good things. We just came out flat."
Courtney said he didn't have to say much to get the team fired up.
"Tonight I give a lot of credit to the boys. With this being a region opponent, they kind of got ready themselves and that's what you hope with your young players, that they can mature to the point where the coach doesn't have to fire them up," he said. "I thought they showed some maturity tonight, just being fired up and ready to play."
The second quarter ended with a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Rosium and after 16 minutes the Comets led 49-22. Rosium said he and his teammates were fired up going into the locker room.
"I get intense when I play, and it's a cool thing to have a shot right before the half, it just worked out that way," he said. "My coach told me 'be ready to shoot,' and the ball came my way."
In the third quarter Custer outscored Christian 20-16 to cut the deficit to 65-42, but the damage was already done. Even outscoring the Comets 11-6 in the fourth didn't do much to chip away at the lead Christian had built.
In addition to Rosium's 27, Zane Schlaback had 21 and Levi Vanden Bos had 11. Nolan Patzlaff led the Wildcats with 19 while Reed Ashmore had 11.
Christian travels to take on Kadoka Area Thursday while Custer (3-11) also travels Thursday to face Red Cloud.
Press too much for Comets
After the first quarter, the Christian girls' team looked good against Custer, leading 12-10.
For the next three quarters, however, it was all Wildcats.
Custer got 29 points from Tori Glazier as the Wildcats rolled to a 59-37 victory.
"I think after the first quarter we started to step it up a little bit, but then the second half was really when we took control of the game," Glazier said. "We got out of our head, had fun with the game and stepped our defense up another notch."
After trailing by two, Custer outscored the Comets 22-4 in the second quarter to take a 32-16 lead into the halftime break, but the Wildcats were just getting started.
"We adjusted at halftime, more focus on making sure the guards not getting to do what they wanted, and just tighter defense all the way around," Custer coach Stephanie Ornelas said. "We really stressed a few things at halftime to make sure our help-side was more active, stopping ball. When you're playing a tighter defense your help-side has to be, in one step, able to step up, be able to stop ball and help out."
The Wildcats gave up only five points in the third quarter and scored 15, to stretch their lead to 47-21 with only eight minutes left.
In the fourth quarter Custer was outscored 16-12, but it didn't end up mattering. Taylor Carlson also had 12 for Custer while former Wildcat Kayla Clewley had 12 for the Comets.
"I was pleased with the way our girls came out, I thought they were very aggressive but when Custer came out in the full-court press, unfortunately we went into a retreat position," Christian coach Paul Anderson said. "We're a young basketball team, we're learning and it hurt. It hurt bad."
Even when Custer wasn't pressing, it was able to force turnovers particularly on inbounds plays. Glazier said that is a credit to the Wildcats' athleticism.
"We just know what to do," she said. "We watch the ball and if they're throwing it in or it's coming to us we capitalize on that."
The excitement was visible for Custer, as after big runs or significant plays the whole team could be seen jumping around and hugging each other.
Glazier said that's just the way the Wildcats play.
"I think we play better when we celebrate the things we do well, and it just keeps us working together as a team better when we celebrate everyone's accomplishments," she said. "I think that makes teams better when they're happy for each other and I think we do a good job of that."
Custer, 9-5, takes on Red Cloud Thursday on the road while Christian, 3-9, travels to Dupree Monday.