Trailing by 15 points with just over two minutes remaining, Rapid City Central coach T.J. Hay pulled his starters and let his reserves finish out the contest. Sioux Falls Washington coach Craig Nelson soon followed suit ... until the game got a little too close for comfort.
Before both coaches could blink, it was suddenly a game again, as the Cobbler reserves scored seven straight and eventually cut the lead to four points with about 10 seconds remaining. The Warriors, however, held on for a 69-62 win over Central Saturday at Naasz Gymnasium.
It was an interesting ending to what otherwise was a lackluster day for the Cobblers, who went in as the No. 2 team in the Class AA ranks.
Hay said the five players out on the court at the end earned a chance to stay stay there even when Nelson put his starters back in.
“The other seven or eight guys had most of the game to try to get something done, and really, they didn’t get much done,” Hay said. “I wasn’t going to switch it out when they (Washington) brought their starters back in. It was a great experience for our guys. You never know, if you get some injuries, those guys are going to have to play. It was good for them to step up.”
It was a tough game for the Cobblers as a whole, who trailed for much of the way, down 16-15 at the end of the first period and 39-30 at halftime. Washington led by as much as 17 in the fourth quarter before Nelson eventually went to his bench.
“You like to get your jayvee guys some minutes, but all of the sudden they go on a 7-0 run, and I think they outscored our jayvees 13-0,” Nelson said. “It was a good lesson for all of us, and even the coach, to throw the starters in for one more possession.”
Hay said that Central had nine players miss at least two days of practice with illness this week and then Friday night’s game with Sioux Falls Lincoln was cancelled because of the winter weather. Things didn’t get any better on Saturday.
“We had some kids still not feeling well, but I was disappointed with our defensive effort to start with. We gave up some easy shots,” Hay said. “I told them we have to do the little things right. We’re running into every screen, and on the other end, we don’t set screens. As well at this point that they have been playing as a team, they just didn’t have that today.”
Jaxson Schmaltz, who hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored eight points in that late rally, led the Cobblers with 11 points. Dylan Hay finished with 10 points and Kailleb Walton-Blanden and Cameron Hall both scored nine points.
Logan Uttecht paced the Warriors, 10-7, with 20 points, followed by Zach Heins with 12 and Topher Zahn with 11.
Nelson was pleased with his team’s defense and execution on offense.
“We have some size and we were able to get the ball into them, and we even have some bigger guards that were able to post, or just get to the rim on some back cuts. We did a good job of executing our offense,” Nelson said.
The Cobblers, 13-3, will now get another crack at Stevens, as they host the Raiders Thursday.
Washington girls run past Cobblers
Just when things were looking up for the Rapid City Central girls’ basketball team, a nearly eight-minute scoring drought put an end to any second-half rally.
Sioux Falls Washington put the clamps on the Central offense in the second half for a 49-33 win on Saturday at Naasz Gymnasium.
Washington had a slight 23-17 halftime lead, but saw the Cobblers come out strong to begin the third, taking a 27-25 advantage on two straight buckets by Juneau Jones.
But that would be it for the final 5 minutes, 26 seconds of the third period and Central didn’t score again until 5:56 remaining in the game. By that time, the Warriors had extended their lead to 34-27 and Washington never looked back.
“We got stuck on 27 for a long time,” Central coach Kraig Blomme said. “There were a couple of lay-ins that we missed and a couple other good looks on the perimeter, and they just didn’t fall down. We gave up too many offensive rebounds to Washington as well.”
In that drought, the Cobblers only gave up nine points, but by that time, they were just never able to get the offense clicking again.
“That was a big team against our small team,” Blomme said. “We worked hard, I thought, for the majority of the game. But there were several possessions in the second half where they got multiple shots. You just can’t do that against a team like that.”
Bailey Johnson led the Cobblers with 10 points, while Jones and Abbie Freeman scored six points each.
Taylor Vander Velde's 15 points led Washington, 7-9, but winners of six of their last seven, and Samiya Jami scored 12 points.
The Cobblers, 7-9, return to action Feb. 20 when they host Rapid City Stevens.