KINGSTON – A magical run by Rock Creek through the opening two days of the Kingston New Years Classic came to a screeching halt Saturday night as Class 3A’s top-ranked Kingston flexed its muscle in the tournament championship.
The Redskins steadily built a double-figure halftime lead and then exploded past the Mustangs in a decisive third quarter for a 72-38 triumph.
In the girls championship tilt, Kingston gave defending champ and perennial power Dale all it wanted before falling 50-48 in the final seconds.
Rock Creek’s girls couldn’t overcome several lengthy offensive droughts while falling to Latta, 46-34, in the tournament third place contest.
Kingston 72, Rock Creek 38 (boys)
Facing the top-ranked team in the state was a tough enough assignment, but doing so following emotionally-charge wins over a pair of Top 5 opponents made it a virtual improbability.
The Redskins meanwhile took advantage of fresh legs to race to a quick 5-0 edge and led by as many as nine following two Jacob Whipkey three-pointers before Christian McGowan’s trey trimmed the margin to 15-9 after one period.
Kingston eight straight points to open the second frame and then added another 10-0 burst late in the quarter to push the advantage to 38-18.
“We had a lot more energy than in the first two games of the tournament,” Kingston head coach Taylor Wiebener stated. “We played smarter defensively and stayed under control. Their guards are super quick and concerned us especially off the dribble. We made them struggle to get open shots and that was our objective. We wanted to contain their penetration and put heat on the passing lanes.”
Rock Creek’s Sam Roper responded with six consecutive points to close the half to briefly give the Mustangs the momentum.
It was an entirely different story in the third quarter however as the Redskins took advantage of weary Rock Creek legs with a 23-7 explosion that expanded the margin to 30 points after three stanzas. The Mustangs’ lone field goals in the frame came on treys by Karson Dry and McGowan.
Kingston just played out the string the rest of the way with tournament Most Valuable Player Jacob Germany finishing with a game-high 20 points.
“Fortunately we knocked down a few perimeter shots against their zone in the first half and then we really got after it pretty well when they went to the man after halftime,” Wiebener added. “This is the first time we have won our own tournament so hopefully we can use that momentum to get on a roll. We need to use the rest of the regular season and prepare ourselves for the playoffs. Try to continue to get better and better so that we are peaking toward the end of February.
“The rest of the way we need to be more concerned with ourselves and getting better than who we are playing. If we do that winning will take care of itself.”
Stoney Lowe contributed 15 and Whipkey also reached double figures with 10. Conner Brister scored nine, Rylee Holmes had six, Jase Hayes contributed four, Trey Keatts and Mathew O’Steen each scored three and R.J. Weeks had two.
Roper, Dry and Austin Green all totaled nine points to pace the Mustangs. McGowan scored six, Luke Jestis had three and Dylan Robinson notched two.
Lowe and Weeks were Kingston selections on the All-Tournament team with Roper and Dry receiving that recognition for Rock Creek.
Dale 50, Kingston 48 (girls)
Trailing by as many as 10 points to start the third quarter, the Lady Redskins came storming back to make it a thriller at the end.
Senior Kes Reeves scored eight points to ignite a 16-9 Kingston run that closed the third and narrowed the Dale advantage to just three.
Britny Henderson’s three-pointer just 10 seconds into the final stanza knotted the score at 37 and sent the capacity crowd into a frenzy.
Dale went back ahead moments later and held that edge until a basket and following free throws by Reeves evened things at 48-48 with just 35 seconds to go.
The Lady Pirates elected to play for the final shot and canned a short runner with three seconds remaining for the decisive margin.
Reeves ended with 24 points for Kingston to lead all scorers. Henderson added nine, Danna Wagnon chipped in seven, Avri Weeks had six and Tyla Bohannon tossed in two.
Reeves and Weeks were All-Tournament selections for the Lady Redskins.
Latta 46, Rock Creek 34 (girls)
A nearly six-minute offensive drought to close the first quarter left the Lady Mustangs in a major hole they were trying to recover from the rest of the contest.
Following early scores from Hannah Heflin and Teeronie McCann that put Rock Creek in front 4-3, Latta pumped in 12 straight points for a 15-4 advantage.
Heflin finally ended the dry spell 12 seconds into the second frame and the Lady Mustangs cashed in four Latta turnovers to trim the margin to 20-16 but they once again went ice cold for another stretch that covered more than four minutes. That allowed the Lady Panthers to take a 28-18 advantage to intermission.
Rock Creek however managed just four points in the third stanza, allowing the Latta lead to balloon to as much as 20 points early in the fourth period.
Heflin, who was selected to the All-Tournament team, led the scoring with 13 points with McCann contributing eight and Jacey Angello adding seven. Jordan Nelson and Brittany Farrington each scored two with Marrah Berka and Karissa Blackburn tossing in one apiece.
Kingston senior Kes Reeves once again led the charge for the Lady Redskins with 24 points on Saturday night, but they came up just shy in a 50-48 championship loss to powerhouse Dale.