FLUSH — A poor shooting night from the free-throw line didn’t stop the Rock Creek boys from dominating visiting Riley County Friday night.
The Mustangs defeated the Falcons 59-45, despite connecting on just 18 free throws in 40 trips to the charity stripe.
Rock Creek was led by junior Ryan Schneider with a game-high 16 points — 12 of which came from behind the arc. Senior Shane Adams added 13 points for the Mustangs and senior Tyler Dillon scored 12 points.
Senior Bryce Chavis led the way for the Falcons with 13 points, while Trace Nelson finished with 10 points.
“Offensively, we played well in stretches,” Rock Creek coach Jim Johnston said. “In other stretches, we didn’t — obviously at the free-throw line where we were 18 of 40. I talked to the kids and told them that’s not going to cut it at sub-state. That’s going to kill us.”
Rock Creek got out of the gate with a 16-12 lead after the first quarter, which included two 3-pointers from Schneider.
The Mustangs increased their lead to begin the second quarter with an inside basket from 6-foot-4 senior Jacob Miller. Rock Creek didn’t celebrate, though.
Right after Miller scored in the paint, the Mustangs defense stole the ball from Riley County in transition and Adams scored on a layup to extend the Falcons’ lead to 20-12.
Chavis would get to the free-throw line on the next trip and make 1 of 2, but Schneider again struck gold from beyond the arc.
Although Nelson netted Riley County’s first trey of the game with less than three minutes left in the half to cut Rock Creek’s lead to six points, Schneider again got a look from the left corner and dropped in another 3.
The Schneider 3-pointer extended the Mustangs’ lead 29-16 with just 1:33 remaining before halftime.
The Falcons scored a bucket before the break, but Rock Creek kept the heat up and started the second half with a 3-pointer from Dillon.
The Mustangs led 44-29 at the end of the third quarter, but Riley County didn’t let Rock Creek ride peacefully into the night.
Jacey Buss opened the final quarter for the Falcons with a trey, and Riley County got within 11 points with three minutes to go when sophomore Brice Brummett went 2 for 2 at the line.
But, the Mustangs answered with a basket in the paint.
Riley County tried to take advantage of Rock Creek’s sour performance at the stripe, but the Mustangs hit just enough down the stretch to keep the Falcons at arm’s length.
“We had a lot of opportunities to put the game out of reach,” Johnston said. “Riley did a good job hanging in there and to keep fighting. Give them credit.
“They did a lot of things they needed to do to keep the game in reach, but we have got to make free throws — that’s the bottom line.”