Royal Boys lose a nail-biter

Thursday, January 24, 2019
Sophomore guard Cade Pepper scores the layup against the Panthers of Kingsley-Pierson on Thursday night.
(Photo by MMCRU HS Journalism)

The first game of the season played on a Thursday evening for the MMCRU boys’ basketball team was a trip to Kingsley-Pierson High School to take on the Panthers in a non conference matchup. The Royals entered the contest looking for their third win of the season, while Kingsley-Pierson was looking to get their third win in a row and improve their record to 7-7.

The Panthers got off to a quick 4-0 lead, but sophomore Cade Pepper answered with a three pointer to cut the lead to just one. Andrew Prescott found some success in the paint, scoring a couple buckets in the first frame, giving the Royals an 11-9 advantage. After trailing 13-11, senior guard Joel Johnson buried a three with just five seconds remaining in the first quarter, giving the Royals a 14-13 advantage after one.

The second quarter remained tight as Robert Russell broke an 18-18 tie with a mid range floater. Panthers guard Nathan Keck had many opportunities from the foul line, knocking down four in a row on back to back possessions giving the Panthers a two point lead, but Johnson answered with one of his five three pointers on the night to give the visitors a 23-22 lead. After one half of play, Kingsley-Pierson held a slim 24-23 advantage.

Senior guard Robert Russell brings the ball down the court in action against Kingsley-Pierson on Thursday.
(Photo by MMCRU HS Journalism)

Pepper started off the second half ready to roll as he scored five quick points to help the Royals retake the lead. On the next possession, Prescott snagged one of his four offensive rebounds on the night and finishing at the rim, extending the MMCRU lead to four. The Royals scored a season high 24 points in a single quarter, thanks to hot shooting from virtually everyone who stepped on the floor. Johnson hit three shots from beyond the arc, and Prescott continued to battle on the boards, putting in an easy layup at the end of the third giving the Royals a 47-36 advantage after three.

The Panthers were able to cut the deficit to five, but Russell made a tough jumper off the backboard and drilled a three pointer to extend the lead back to 11. Trailing 55-50, Tyler Sitzmann hit a pair of free throws, cutting the lead to just three with two minutes to play. Jordan Marks also hit a pair of clutch free throws for the Royals, regaining a 57-55 edge.

After a wild sequence of events, Keck hit one of his two free throws, but still trailed the Royals 59-58 with only 12 seconds remaining. After a Royals foul, Kyler Krieg had ice in his veins to give the Panthers a 60-59 advantage with eight seconds left of the game. With likely one shot remaining, Johnson drove down the floor and shot a left handed floater at the buzzer, bouncing off the back of the iron and falling short, giving the Panthers a thrilling 60-59 win over MMCRU.

Johnson led the Royals with 21 points, with five of his field goals coming from beyond the arc. Prescott followed him with 12 points and led the team in rebounds, and Pepper got hot in the second half, finishing with 10 points. The Royals shot over 40 percent from the field, and just under 70 percent from the charity stripe.

The Panthers were led by Keck, who poured in 28 points, the only player on the team to score in double figures. Sitzmann crashed the glass for eight rebounds, and was the second leading scorer with nine. Although it was a cold night shooting 2 of 15 from deep, the Panthers made 20 of their 28 attempts from the free throw line.

Sophomore guard Cade Pepper, “It was a great team effort tonight, but we couldn’t find a way to close out the game when we needed to.” The Royals square off against West Sioux on Friday, January 25, in Hawarden.