BY DAVID PEDERSEN
As the Section 5AA basketball playoffs get started for Rockford’s girls, the boys were leaving after a thrilling 68-67 loss to Breck last Thursday.
Rockford entered the playoffs as the No. 6 seed playing at No. 3 Breck, which moved on to edge No. 2 seed Watertown-Mayer 73-72 Saturday.
“We played a really good game,” said coach Michael Tauber. “The positive in it all is our goal was to be playing our best basketball at the end of the season. The goal of advancing in the playoffs was not met.”
The Rockets fell behind early at 13-4, but made a nice run to take a 25-24 halftime lead. The lead went back and forth in the second half. Rockford was up by five, then down by seven. The lead was cut to one with 48 seconds left.
Breck made two free throws and were in control when Rockford forced a turnover and called time out with 7.9 seconds to play. Senior guard Zach Connell was set up for a corner shot, but stepped on the out of bounds line.
Another foul sent Breck to the line where it missed both free throws, giving Rockford new life with 5.3 seconds. Tauber said the team has a play called make it happen. Connell got wide open again, but his last second shot bounced off the rim.
Brock Deering once again led the offense by scoring 25 points to go with 11 rebounds. The senior shot 9 of 13 from 2-point range and was 7 for 7 from the free throw line. Senior Brendon Schumacher had 14 points and eight rebounds.
For the season Deering averaged 18.8 points and 12.5 rebounds. Schumacher had 11.8 points and 7.5 rebounds. Jeremy Bingham and Nick Tully both scored abound 10 points per game and Joe Agre was at 7.6.
When Rockford defeated Pierz to end the regular season it marked the 200th career win for coach Tauber in his 12 years at Rockford.
Rockford’s girls gained momentum and confidence for the playoffs with a 68-61 win over Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa. The Rockets earned the No. 4 seed in the south sub-section.
The first game is at home, 7 p.m. Thursday, March 6 against Breck. The winner takes on No. 1 sub-section seed Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted Saturday, March 8 at St. Michael-Albertville. The sub-section title game is 6 p.m. March 11 at STMA and the section title game is 7:30 p.m. March 14 at St. Cloud State.
What coach James Carr liked about the win over BBE was how his team had 20 total assists in the game. He is pleased to see the turnovers down and assists up.
A key play in the game came when BBE took a 61-60 lead. Abby Botten drove down the lane and made a nice pass to Brianna Calder for a layup and the lead that was never lost.
Botten finished with 18 points, three assists and two steals. She was 4 of 7 from 3-point range. Jordan Weeding had 17 points, nine blocks, five rebounds and three assists. Calder had 13 points, nine rebounds four steals and three assists. Caitlin McNeal added nine points with four assists and Sam Bagaason had seven points and three assists.
If Rockford advances to play HLWW, Carr says the keys include playing tough defense and taking care of the basketball against a pressure defense.
Rockford has featured a balanced offensive attack late in the season. Four players are close to averaging in double figures with Calder at 10.9, Weeding 10.4, Bagaason 9.2 and Botten 8.8.