Winning ways return at home
Following its first defeat of the season – one few expected – the Rugby High School boys basketball team raced back into the win column.
The No. 4-ranked Panthers dominated the first quarter with a 28-3 advantage en route to a 82-57 home-opener win over Harvey-Wells County on Monday at Charles Hanneman Gymnasium.
The team’s previous game was a 51-50 loss to Beulah on Dec. 27 in Minot.
“We had a really good week of practice,” RHS coach Mike Santjer said. “The kids were still a little torn up about the loss. I was hoping we’d be able to do 32 minutes not eight.”
Santjer wasn’t pleased with his team’s showing after blasting the Hornets in the first quarter. H-WC tied the Panthers 54-54 through the final three quarters, aided by thirteen 3-pointers. Andrew Alveshere led all scorers with 31 points as he connected on eight 3-pointers. His team attempted 30 shots from beyond the arc.
“We did shoot a lot of 3-pointers,” H-WC coach Jon Bertsch said. “We’re not overly big inside, so that’s something we have to do. If we shoot well, we can compete and we really struggled in the first half.”
RHS senior forward Brad Heidlebaugh scored a game-high 27 points followed by classmate and fellow big man Zach Miller’s 23. Heidlebaugh also ripped down a game-high 13 rebounds.
The Panthers opened the season as the top ranked team in Class B and the players know opponents still view them as a team everyone wants to knock off.
“We need to keep up the defensive intensity,” RHS senior guard Eric Hooker said. “We tend to let off when we get a comfy lead and that’s something we can’t do.”
Hooker commended the Hornets, but emphasized the importance of better communication on the Panthers’ part.
“They were hitting tough shots,” Hooker said. “We were in their face, but we need to do a better job of talking on defense. We’re long enough to contest shots anyway.”
Senior guard Tanner Bernhardt led the Panthers with eight assists and Heidlebaugh added seven.
RHS’s Thursday game against Region 6 foe Des-Lacs-Burlington was postponed until Jan. 16 in Burlington.
The team is back home next week with games against Westhope-Newburg on Tuesday and No. 5 North Star on Thursday.
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