Raiders’ Hoops Season Comes To A Close
EMMETSBURG – When you get to a district final in boys basketball, you know that your competition is going to be top-notch. The Ruthven-Ayrshire Raiders and Head Coach Randy Hough found that out personally on Thursday night when their post-season run came to a close in a 64-43 loss to George-Little Rock.
The Class 1A District final loss ended the Raiders’ season with a mark of 20-3.
Coming off a lopsided victory in the District semi final on Tuesday, the Raiders knew going into Thursday’s game that they would have a monumental challenge in matching up with the Mustangs, who entered the game with a mark of 17-6 from the Siouxland Conference.
With a capacity crowd on hand in the Emmetsburg High School gym on Thursday, the atmosphere of the contest held every aspect of a state tournament game.
George-Little Rock came out from the opening tip with an aggressive man-to-man pressure defense on the Raiders, which would create turnovers off steals and tipped balls. In the meantime, the Raiders were patient in setting their offense, working for the optimal shot. The Mustangs would counter with slashing attacks to the basket on their end of the court, and when the first quarter ended. Ruthven-Ayrshire held a slim, one-point, 15-14 lead over the Mustangs.
The game continued in the same fashion during the second quarter, with both teams trading buckets back and forth. The Raiders’ zone defense made George-Little Rock earn every bucket they got, but close defense by the Mustangs continued to create turnovers. Those turnovers would be used to the Mustangs’ advantage to edge out to a 28-24 lead over the Raiders when the first half came to a close.
The second half opened with George-Little Rock taking the momentum with some quick buckets and then soundly taking the game in hand off a thundering dunk to highlight a 10-point, 36-26 lead 2:00 into the third quarter.
However, the Raiders’ weren’t ready to pack up. Slowly but surely, Ruthven-Ayrshire carved into the Mustangs’ 10-point lead to cut it to six points, only to see the Mustangs quickly drain a three-pointer and a couple of buckets to jump out to a 13-point advantage.
The Raiders continued to work their offense, but their shooting touch had seemed to cool over the intermission, as George-Little Rock would hold onto the 13-point lead to end the third quarter.
In the final eight minutes of play, Ruthven-Ayrshire would see the deficit grow to 15 points and then increase as George-Little Rock began to edge away from the Raiders.
The blistering defense never let up, forcing numerous steals and turnovers off the Raiders that the Mustangs would quickly convert to points, but the Raiders kept playing their hearts out, cutting the lead back down once again.
With just over 5:00 to play in the contest, George-Little Rock saw their 15-point lead cut to a 45-37 lead, the closest the Raiders would be able to come in the final quarter. However, another series of turnovers and shots that fell off the mark would doom the Raiders’ hopes for a comeback.
With time winding down in the game, Hough went to his bench, bringing his starters out to standing ovations by the Raider faithful as the reserves took over to finish out the contest while the starters watched in stoic silence, reflecting on their season as the final horn sounded.
For Ruthven-Ayrshire, senior Andy Rowlands led the effort with 17 points on the night, the only Raider to score in double figures.
Ryan Hoffman added eight points to the effort, while Tyler Enderson scored seven points on the night. Brad Geelan would chip in five points for Ruthven-Ayrshire, while Carl Jensen added four points and Ryan Sikora rounded out the effort with two points.
The Raiders bid farewell to a quartet of seniors with the loss, as Rowlands,Tyler Enderson, Ryan Hoffman and Bryce Williamson all competed their prep careers for the Raiders.
“George-Little Rock was a quality ball club,” noted RA Head Coach Randy Hough. “They played very well and we just couldn’t keep up with them. I’m proud of all the kids and I can’t fault them for their efforts. It’s been a good season all the way around.”