Defensive effort sends Remsen St. Mary’s back to substate final
SIOUX CITY — If he could, Remsen St. Mary’s co-Head Coach Scott Ruden would like to play more of his team’s games at the Sioux City East gym. After a smothering defensive performance there in last year’s district final in a 49-23 win over Kingsley-Pierson, the Hawks followed up with a similar performance in their return trip with a 60-29 win over Lawton-Bronson in Thursday’s (February 21) district final.
“We played lights out defense,” Ruden said. “We love this gym. We would love to play here. We play really good defense down here. The boys, they’ve been getting better defensively all year and if you can play defense, you can play with anybody.”
Lawton-Bronson was held to well below their season average of 54.5 points per game and were seven points below their previous season-low of 36 points in their regular season finale against Bishop Heelan. Ruden said the team focused on limiting perimeter shots against the Eagles.
“We knew we couldn’t just sit back and let them shoot threes,” Ruden said. “We knew we had to get into them and play aggressive.”
Gavin DeJager had five 3-pointers and 25 points against Gehlen Catholic the game before, but the Hawks limited him to just nine points. While his points came on three treys, all of them came in the second half when the Hawks were already well in control of the game.
With the game tied at 7-7 midway through the first, Remsen St. Mary’s went on run which put them in the driver’s seat. Blaine Harpenau and Skyler Waldschmitt connected on 3-pointers in the final 30 seconds of the quarter which was the closing end of a 10-0 run in the final three minutes of the frame. It didn’t end there however as the Hawks added eight more points to start the second before Lawton-Bronson finally scored with a free throw. RSM began the second quarter with a free throw from Brayden Ricke. He missed the second but Noah Schroeder came down with the offensive rebound and kicked the ball back out to Ricke who sank a 3-pointer. Spencer Schorg added a mid-range baseline jumper as he said the momentum shift was just what the team needed.
“That’s huge especially in this type of game,” Schorg said. “Both crowds were amazing, both teams really wanted this win. When you can jump out in front like that, it almost just demoralizes the other team. It was just a great team win.”
The Hawks entered halftime with a 36-13 advantage and then put together their best defensive quarter in the third as they held the Eagles to just five points. The offense kept pulling away with Schorg connecting on a 3-pointer from the right wing in the closing seconds of the third to put the score at 49-18. It was one of two treys in the game for Schorg as he led the team with 17 points. He credits his teammates for finding him at the right opportunity.
“My teammates find me in really good situations and I’m just lucky enough that they find me,” Schorg said. “We have such great chemistry and they hit me and I hit the shots down and that’s just a really great feeling that they have that trust in me.”
The fourth quarter was evenly played as the Hawks were able to clear the bench in the final minutes of the game with a significant lead.
Along with Schorg finishing in double figures, Ricke ended the game with 11 points. He scored six of his points at the free-throw line and led the team with four assists.
Harpenau and Waldschmitt tallied nine points apiece. Harpenau added seven rebounds, four steals and three assists.
Austin Jensen was the team’s leading rebounder with 10 and added six points in the scoring column.
Remsen St. Mary’s (18-6) advances to the substate final where they will face South O’Brien (20-4). The two teams have split their other two meetings this season in close games. The Wolverines claimed a 63-60 win back on Nov. 30 before the Hawks won a 40-38 overtime meeting on Jan. 4. The home team was victorious in both games. This game is scheduled to be held at MOC-Floyd Valley on Monday, February 25, at 7 p.m.
A win for the Hawks would send them to state for the third consecutive season.
“I think a lot of people thought it was a rebuild type of year for us because we had no seniors and we graduated seven seniors last year and four of them starters,” Schorg said. “We just knew in our own little community that this isn’t a rebuild type of year for us. It’s a reload type of year. It’s just huge that we’re able to have this opportunity to go to the substate again and hopefully a third time in a row in school history of going down to state.”