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Rock boys finish perfect league run

By Nicolas Wahl

FLUSH — Rock Creek senior Ryan Schneider scored 17 points and grabbed six rebounds - both game highs - as the Class 3A No. 8 Mustangs jumped on Rossville before cruising to a convincing 65-39 win on senior night to cap an undefeated Mid-East League season Thursday night.

“He’s playing at an unbelievable level,” Rock Creek head coach Jim Johnston said. “He scored 31 the other night and he’s doing it with the other teams best defender on him every night.”

Rock Creek, which wrapped up back-to-back league titles with the win, completed a successful regular-season encore after losing four starters from a year ago.

The Mustangs (17-3, 10-0 Mid-East) held Rossville (6-14, 4-6) to just 4-of-20 (32 percent) shooting in the first half and scored 20 points off 12 Bulldog turnovers. They hit 22 of 26 free throws and grabbed 15 offensive rebounds at a 43-percent clip.

“We played well tonight,” Johnston said. “In the first half we came out and executed our offense. They were really doubling off guards onto the posts and we made the adjustments.”

The Mustangs shot 50 percent from the field and hit 3 of 7 3-pointers in the first half.

“Defensively we played really well in the first half,” Johnston said. “We made them do a lot of things they didn’t want to do.”

Schneider, the lone returning starter this season, helped the Mustangs turn an early 7-4 lead into a 20-6 Rock Creek rout by the end of the first quarter. After Alex Feldkamp turned a Rossville turnover into a layup to make it 11-6 Mustangs with 3:10 left in the first, Schneider drew a charge on Rossville’s next possession.

He drained a 3-pointer from the left wing 50 seconds late, part of 11 straight Mustang points that ended with four consecutive Schneider free throws and Rock Creek up by 16 early in the second quarter.

Sophomore posts Carson Becker - who had 11 points and three blocks - and Jared Garcia kept Rossville out of the lane all game, and junior sixth-man Nate Berard came in to spark continued dominance into halftime.

Berard hit a 3-pointer at the five-minute mark, then stole the ball on Rossville’s next possession setting up a Jackson Goodmiller score. Then Schneider drained his second 3-pointer before Berard poked away a steal, crossed over two Rossville defenders and completed a one-on-two break making it 32-12 Mustangs with 1:00 left in the second quarter.

“(Berard) is just amazing what he can do coming off the bench,” Johnson said. “He’s been really cool about it. It doesn’t bother him, and he know he’s like a starter.”

Becker hit a step-back jumper to give Rock Creek a 34-12 halftime lead.

The Mustangs would run their lead to 29 points when senior Travis Blenn hit a 3-pointer with 5:15 left in the game.

League titles are nice, but the Mustangs know there are bigger goals ahead. They don’t want to see a premature exit from the postseason like they endured in a first-round sub-state loss last season.

“We’re ready,” Schneider said. “We’re going to take it one step at a time. We’re focused on St. Marys, but yeah our goal is state. We just have to get there one game at a time.”

Top-seeded Rock Creek hosts St. Marys on Monday night at 7 p.m., with a potential rematch against Rossville waiting in Thursday’s semifinals at Silver Lake should they advance.

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