FLUSH — It was the Nate Berard and Trenton Smith show Friday night, but Berard’s Rock Creek squad prevailed over Smith’s Silver Lake Eagles, 73-58.
The win secured Rock Creek its second straight league title.
“I’m very proud of them tonight,” Rock Creek head coach Jim Johnston said.
Silver Lake decided to focus their defensive efforts on Rock Creek senior guard Ryan Schneider and opened up in a box-and-one with Zach Boyd following Schneider. Schneider started slow with all the defensive attention, but was able to settle into a groove in the third quarter and finished with 13 points.
Berard, who put on a highlight reel of offensive moments during the second and third quarters, ended with 27 points. Berard had 11 and 12 points, respectively, in the second and third quarters.
“Nate Berard got hot again,” Johnston said. “He shot the ball well again tonight.”
But it was Smith who stole the show from both Schneider and Berard in a losing effort. Smith opened up the game playing post for Silver Lake, but the Eagles pulled Smith out and he continually burned the Mustangs with a mid-range game and a few 3-pointers. Smith’s game did not surprise Johnston, who has witnessed Smith’s offensive prowess multiple times throughout the senior’s career.
“Trenton Smith’s a darn good player,” Johnston said. “He’s been in our league for a few years. So we knew he was going to make a run.”
With a potential rematch between the two teams at sub-state, Johnston kept his playbook close to the chest against Silver Lake. Johnston did not want to provide the Eagles any scouting material with another game looming.
“We just wanted to play straight, because we could see them in two weeks again,” Johnston said.
While Rock Creek was able to win the game comfortably against Silver Lake, the Eagles made things interesting during the fourth quarter where they ratcheted up their defense and forced the usually solid Mustangs into a series of turnovers, pulling within 11. The Mustangs responded by going on a 5-0 run to go back up by 16 points. Rock Creek received simple advice in the huddle from their fiery leader.
“We told them to pass fake, don’t turn their head and come meet every pass,” Johnston said.
Rock Creek faces Rossville on Thursday for its regular-season finale.