The Randolph Cardinals had a visitor in their locker room prior to their Section 6 Class C-2 semifinal basketball game on Tuesday night at Jamestown Community College.
Of course, Nate Beaver needed no introduction.
One of the most competitive athletes in recent school history, Beaver (Randolph Class of 2013) reminded the Cardinals of what happened in last year's sectional semifinal, one they lost by a point to Middle College in heartbreaking fashion, also at JCC. It was Beaver's last high school game, and he still hasn't forgotten about it.
Randolph’s Bryce Morrison looks for an open teammate while being guarded by Olmsted’s Brandon Roach during the second semifinal of a Section 6 Class C-2 doubleheader at Jamestown Community College on Tuesday night. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Scott Kindberg
"I wanted them to see him and for him to let them know ... what happened last year,'' Randolph coach Kevin Hind said. "Here's the guy who 365 days later would give anything to put that uniform back on. He told them, 'Don't waste an opportunity.''
Taylor Miller scored 14 points, Bryce Morrison had 12, and Mason Bosley and Lucas Brown added 11 and 10 respectively as the Cardinals knocked off Olmsted, 56-43. Morrison also grabbed seven rebounds, Brown made all five of the shots he attempted and Mitchell Maycock hauled in six rebounds and dished out eight assists in helping Randolph improve to 15-5.
The win vaults the Cardinals into the sectional title game at 7 p.m., Friday when they'll meet rival Maple Grove, a 75-66 winner over International Prep in last night's other semifinal. JCC will likely be hopping for that game. The Cardinals won both meetings during the regular season, including a 74-19 rout in December.
But Hind knows all about how difficult it is to beat the same team three times in a season and he also knows that the Red Dragons are playing much better than they did in early January.
"That (December) game means nothing,'' Hind said. "We haven't played like that since. It felt like a once-in-a-lifetime thing.''
But it's been that kind of year for Randolph sports, which was highlighted by a state Class D football championship in November. That meant a late start to the basketball season for the nine guys who were on the gridiron until Thanksgiving weekend.
"It's been a challenge to keep them focused and keep them hungry,'' Hind said. " That's my biggest goal.''
The Cardinals didn't have a problem with focus or desire last night. They jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes and never trailed the rest of the way. A 7-0 run to begin the second half ballooned Randolph's advantage to 35-20 and the Owls got no closer than eight points after that.
Miller and Brown were especially impressive while Maycock played a fine floor game. Brandon Roach paced the Owls (11-9) with 15 points and Donald Terrell chipped in with 12.
For the Cardinals, it's on to Friday and another meeting with Maple Grove. Given the opponent and the long rivalry between the schools in virtually every sport, Hind won't have to call on a Randolph alumnus to inspire the squad.
"Maple Grove, that's a different story,'' he said.
Roach 6 0 15, Tritto 4 1 9, Burch 2 0 5, Hearon 0 2 2, Terrell 3 6 12, Totals 15 9 43.
Carpenter 1 0 2, Young 0 0 0, Hettenbaugh 0 0 0, Beaver 0 0 0, Brown 5 0 10, Maycock 1 0 3, McAllister 1 0 2, Miller 5 4 14, Bosley 4 0 11, Morrison 5 0 12, Oldro 1 0 2, Bowers 0 0 0, Totals 23 3 56.
3-point goals - Roach 3, Burch, Maycock, Miller, Bosley 3, Morrison 2.
Olmstead8 12 11 12 - 43
Randolph11 17 15 13 - 56