The Rock Creek boys’ basketball team proved just getting to the big show wasn’t the intention.
The Mustangs, who punched their ticket for their first trip to the Class 3A State Tournament since 1994, will move on after besting Moundridge 49-41 on Wednesday night in Hutchinson.
Rock Creek — the fifth seed — held a four-point lead going into halftime and used a strong fourth quarter to put away the No. 4-seeded Wildcats.
With the win, the Mustangs (20-4) will move on to play Scott City Friday.
Scott City (23-1) is the defending Class 3A champions and the No. 1 seed in this year’s tournament.
“We were a little nervous and excited coming out in the first quarter,” Rock Creek head coach Jim Johnston said in a phone interview following the win Wednesday night. “But we settled down and started doing some good things.”
Senior Aaron Kuecker led the Mustangs with 11 points and fellow senior Dillon Johnston added 10 points. Junior Jacob Miller, who stands at 6-foot-5, had nine points and a game-high 17 rebounds for Rock Creek.
Logan Miner — another Mustang senior — was big defensively for Rock Creek and held Moundridge stand-out Trey Unrau to 15 points.
Unrau had averaged 27 points per game, according to Johnston.
“Logan was amazing defensively,” Johnston said. “He made (Unrau) work for everything he got.”
Rock Creek had a five-point lead late in the game but Moundridge responded with a big 3-pointer that cut the lead to a basket, according to Johnston.
It was then that junior Shane Adams got a steal and made his only bucket of the game to again give the Mustangs a two-possession cushion.
Johnston said from that point on, Rock Creek was sent to the free throw line, where the Mustangs made their shots and kept the Wildcats in the rear-view mirror.
“Everyone had a contribution to the game,” Johnston said. “Both our first five and our second five did a good job of holding Moundridge to scoreless stretches in the second half and K.J. (Dobbins) and Dillon hit free throws down the line for cushion.
“It was a good win and everyone had a share in it. It’s what we’ve preached all year.”
Johnston said he was happy with the way his team was able to overcome it’s early game jitters — especially considering this is Rock Creek’s first trip to state in 18 years.
“We might have played the first quarter like we were just happy to be there,” he said. “But they settled down and did what they had to do. We didn’t want to be one and done.
“We talked all week about coming down here with a purpose. I’m proud of them, because they have a goal, and we were able to come through and finish (tonight).”
Now that the focus shifts to Scott City in the semi-final game Friday, Johnston said his team is well aware of the challenge.
“They’re a very good team… you know that with their record that they are good team,” he said. “They won it last year and are experienced. They know what to expect. They’re not intimidated by the atmosphere — and neither should we, by now.
“We’ll have to play a much smarter game than we did tonight, but we’re just gonna do what we do — we’ve been doing it all year.”
ROCK CREEK 49,
Rock Creek 12 17 8 12 — 49
Moundridge 13 12 7 9 — 41
ROCK CREEK (49) — Kuecker 11, Johnston 10, Miller 9, Dobbins 6, Miner 5, Schneider 3, Srna 3, Adams 2.
MOUNDRIDGE (41) — Unrau 15, Bumgarner 8, Ratzlaff 7, Wedel 5, Otte 4, Kaufman 2.