No comeback win for Riders
The games are 36 minutes long. But the first 18 minutes have been the gauge for success or failure for the Grand Forks Red River boys basketball team.
The Roughriders fell behind 46-27 at halftime on Friday against visiting Fargo Shanley High School. Red River cut the deficit to nine points in the second half but wound up losing 78-64.
The loss dropped Red River to 5-6. The Roughriders are 1-5 in games in which they've trailed at halftime.
Coming from behind "is something you don't really want to have to be good at,'' Red River coach Kirby Krefting said. "You'd rather be ahead. But our guys didn't quit. We've been able to cut the gap in the second half in games. But we're still learning our style.''
The Roughriders will be learning without leading scorer Jordan Polynice. Krefting said Polynice no longer is with the team, not elaborating further.
Threes were a big reason Shanley built a big halftime advantage, taking the lead for good after a 16-0 run put the Deacons ahead 22-12. In the first half, Shanley hit five 3-point shots and had four of the old-fashioned 3-point plays.
"Those were big,'' Shanley coach Andrew Burns said. "We were able to draw contact and still finish plays. That's something we've been working on.''
The catalyst for the Deacons was Joe Kava. The senior finished with a game-high 28 points, including three treys and three 3-point plays.
"Joe's our guy,'' Burns said. "When he gets rolling, we seem to play with confidence. He's an aggressive player. He and Cam Saville did a good job of attacking the basket.''
Saville finished with 14 points and Cody Mehlisch scored 20 for the 7-3 Deacons.
Red River got as close as 72-63 in the second half when freshman Will Obioha converted an offensive rebound with two minutes remaining.
"Our defense sparked it,'' Krefting said of the second-half rally. "We we got to the basket and took some better shots. But 19 points down, that's a lot to come back from in 18 minutes.
"We weren't playing good defense in the first half like we have been lately. We weren't rotating and our fullcourt trap wasn't effective. We gave them some good looks and they shot 53 percent in the half.''
Tommy Stephenson had 19 points and Bryce Enerson 11—season-high point totals for each—to pace the Roughriders. Stephenson had four treys, while Enerson scored 10 in the second half.