RSM tops MMCRU again, but Royals show improvement

Thursday, January 23, 2020
Above, RSM’s Blaine Harpenau prepares to release a shot in Friday’s (January 10) game. Harpenau had a breakout performance for the season with 14 points in the game, surpassing his previous best scoring output of the year which was five points against West Sioux.
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil)

MARCUS — Remsen St. Mary’s scored 76 points against MMCRU in the first game of the season for both teams and the Hawks matched that total, their scoring high for the season, in Friday’s (January 10) War Eagle Conference meeting. The difference in the two meetings was a 22 point increase in scoring output for the Royals from their first meeting of the season. While RSM matched their season scoring high in the 76-53 win, the defensive points allowed was what was on the mind of Hawks co-Head Coach Scott Ruden after the game.

“It’s kind of crazy, the expectations of our program are so high that even when you win by 20, sometimes you don’t feel good about it,” Ruden said. “Giving up 53 points is not characteristic of us. We’re disappointed about that. We thrive on defense and we didn’t play defense tonight, but like I said, hats off to MMCRU, Cam. They played really well.”

For the Royals, it’s been a tough stretch of games as the team entered break at West Sioux and faced South O’Brien, George-Little Rock and then Remsen St. Mary’s in the first week out of break. Those teams are all currently ranked or receiving votes. While the loss to the Hawks on Friday extended a losing streak out to five games, MMCRU Head Coach Cam Kuchel said his team is trending in the right direction after taking a shellacking from South O’Brien to start off 2020.

Above, MMCRU’s Cade Pepper steps back for a shot against RSM on Friday. Pepper knocked down five 3-pointers and led all scorers with 20 points in the game.
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil)

“This only is experience for us,” Kuchel said. “South O’Brien came out this week and gave it to us. We learned from it and we bounced back. As a young team, that’s what I’m most proud of this week. We bounced back from a whooping on Tuesday night, came and battled a really nice team in George-Little Rock last night and then we turned it over the next night and battled the top-rated team in the state. Couldn’t be more proud of our effort tonight.”

No. 1 ranked RSM used a 15-1 run to pull away from a 5-5 tie in the first quarter and the team appeared to be on their way to a blowout as they got up by a 40-14 margin with 1:43 left in the first half. The Royals weren’t going to let their foe run away with the game though as they ended the half on a 6-0 run with a pair of 3-pointers from Derek Goth and Keegan Stevens making it a 40-20 contest at the intermission.

MMCRU kept the momentum going to start the second half as the team pulled to within a 43-27 score after an old-fashioned three-point play from Preston Astidias. Cade Pepper added a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter and two more down the stretch in the fourth as he finished the game with five total and led the team with 20 points. Kuchel said Pepper is one of the best shooters around as he is currently tied for second in the state in 3-pointers made with 33.

“He’s got one of the purest strokes in the conference, if not the purest,” Kuchel said. “He needs to find that confidence to know that he can come out and do it any night. He just did it against the No. 1 team in the state, he needs to have that confidence every night he comes out here. If he gets a sliver of light to shoot, he needs to have the confidence to bury that and he showed tonight that he’s ready to do that.”

Blaine Harpenau gave the Hawks a bounce to end the third with back-to-back buckets. It was a breakout game for Harpenau who finished with 14 points as his previous best in a game this season was five points.

“It was good to see Blaine get back in the flow, we need that,” Ruden said. “He’d been playing alright but hadn’t been putting a lot of points up so we’re glad to see him getting back in the flow. We think he’ll be key to us getting better. The rest of us were a little bit cold, but we had some balanced scoring.”

RSM found their 3-point shooting stroke which went cold in the third with three makes in the fourth from three different players. Spencer Schorg, Levi Waldschmitt and Jaxon Bunkers hit on threes in the final quarter as the team ended with their best scoring quarter since the opening frame.

The Hawks spread their scoring around with six players finishing with anywhere from eight to 15 points.

Brady Homan led the team with 15 points for his top scoring game of the season. Austin Jensen was the team’s final player in double digits with 13 points. Schorg and Bunkers added nine apiece while Brayden Ricke finished with eight.

After Pepper led all scorers with 20 points, the Royals had two others in double digits as Astidias scored 13 and Kamden Steffen dropped in 11.

MMCRU falls to 1-9 on the season. The team will return to action Tuesday, January 14, at home against Harris-Lake Park. The Royals lost the first meeting against the Wolves by a 68-43 score.

Remsen St. Mary’s is now 9-1 for the season. The team will host South O’Brien on Monday, January 13. RSM won the first meeting by a 51-40 score on the road, but the Wolverines have won six consecutive since that loss and have scored at least 64 points in all of those games.

“We’ve got a big game Monday night so we’ve got to play a lot better defense than what we played tonight and I think we will,” Ruden said. “It’s really big because we’ve got one loss now to West Sioux. We’ve got South O’Brien and Unity next week. It’s really crucial that we win as many as we can so we get a good seed. If we could stay in the top bracket with South O’Brien, maybe they split us come district time and then we don’t see them until state, so it’s important. Every game’s important and South O’Brien’s a big one because we beat them at their house so they’re going to come full steam and they’re playing really well right now. We’re going to have to play real well, too.”

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MMCRU911151853

RSM: Points- Homan 15, Harpenau 14, Jensen 13, Bunkers 9, S. Schorg 9, Ricke 8, S. Waldschmitt 5, L. Waldschmitt 3.

MMCRU: Points- Pepper 20, Astidias 13, Steffen 11, Goth 6, Stevens 3.