FLUSH — Ryan Schneider couldn’t be stopped.
The junior shot the Rock Creek Mustangs past Rossville 65-44 on Tuesday night, making six 3-pointers and finishing with a game-high 24 points.
Three of Schneider’s 3-pointers came in the third quarter when the Mustangs opened a 12-point lead after his fifth trey of the night swished from the corner with 1:12 to go in the period.
Rock Creek led by just two points at halftime.
“He’s a shooter,” Mustangs coach Jim Johnston said of Schneider. “He had his confidence down in the first half, but we told him to keep shooting.
“He felt like he was hogging the ball, but our kids told him they were going to be upset if he didn’t because they know he can shoot it and we’re going to rebound it if he misses.
“He can shoot it.”
The Mustangs’ Jacob Miller was also a force Tuesday, especially in the paint and on the glass, as the 6-foot-5 senior finished with 19 points.
The Bulldogs (2-7, 1-2 MEL) had three players in double-figures, led by senior Jeff Immenschuh’s 12 points. Senior Trace Davis scored 11 and freshman Tucker Horak added 10.
Rock Creek (7-1, 4-0 MEL) struggled in the first half.
Although the Mustangs began the game like it wanted to with quick in-the-paint buckets by Miller, Rock Creek held only a 8-5 advantage by the end of the opening period.
The Mustangs began the second quarter with Schneider’s second 3-pointer of the night, but Rossville’s shooters had an eye for the hoop as well.
An aggressive move to the basket by Horak earned him two shots at the free-throw line where he made them both.
Then, following a layup by Rock Creek’s Miller, Horak showed his range and drained a 3-pointer from the left of the key with 5:21 to go before the halftime break.
Miller again scored inside to extend the Mustangs’ lead 15-10, but back-to-back drives into the lane netted results for Rossville and the lead was cut again.
Rock Creek’s Alex Feldkamp increased the gap with a pair of free throws on a one-and-one trip, but Horak again came up with a trey and the contest was tied at 17.
For the next three minutes, both teams would trade shots at the charity stripe before the Mustangs went into the break with a slim 22-20 lead.
The third quarter started similar to how the first half ended with neither defense having much of an answer for either possession.
But that changed mid-way through the quarter.
After a slick cut to the basket by Immenschuh cut Rock Creek’s lead to just a point, Schneider’s perimeter shooting got hot.
Schneider hit a trey from the far corner to put the Mustangs up 32-28.
Davis answered with a nicely stroked mid-range jumper to keep Rossville on the offensive, but Schneider came right back — this time from the opposite corner — and drained another 3-pointer.
A defensive stop put Rock Creek back on the attack and the Mustangs’ senior Josh Roberts scored from the low post to push the lead to nine with 1:48 to go.
Although the Bulldogs quickly called a timeout to try and slow Rock Creek’s momentum, the hot shooting didn’t cool off, as Schneider hit another trey and Rossville never threatened the rest of the game.
“We didn’t play with any fire or intensity in the first half,” Johnston said. “We were just going through the motions. For most of the night, we were undisciplined. But we came out into the second half with a little bit of fire and made some plays happen.
“It wasn’t a pretty game, but we won.”