By Jay Young
A late push by Maple Grove fell just short on Friday evening as the Randolph Cardinals went on to claim the Section C Class C-2 boys basketball championship, 50-44, in front of a packed house at Jamestown Community College.
Randolph’s Mason Bosley prepares to pass to a teammate during Friday’s Section 6 Class C-2 championship game against Maple Grove. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Jay Young
Third-seeded Randolph (14-6) opened up a big lead in the early going over the No. 4 Red Dragons (11-9) and was able to hold off the hot shooting of Corey Wefing, Kyle Richardson, and Riley Beaton to claim their first sectional title since 2009.
Playing under the bright lights of the postseason did nothing to fluster coach Kevin Hind's veteran squad, even when it looked like Maple Grove couldn't miss with the game on the line.
"I brought seven out of eight kids back from last year so ya know that's huge, they've been here.,'' Hind said. ''We talked about how we've been on the biggest stage, we've played in big games before, we had to handle their press and their pressure early and I thought we did."
A big part of the Cardinals' experience is junior Cody Oldro, who was playing on a shortened season after having his knee reconstructed.
Oldro's work in the paint wore down the Red Dragons all night and produced a team-high nine boards to go along with eight points.
"Cody struggled inside all night, but he got us some huge buckets down the stretch and some huge rebounds and just battled all night,'' Hind said. ''You know he's played ten games in three and half weeks and he's out of shape and he's battling out their, but he tore his knee in the state championship football game and had surgery, I think January eighth. He came back the end of January and has made a huge difference for us. It's nice to be able to go to him when they are pressuring you."
All year Randolph has lived and died by the 3 and on Friday night there was no question that they were living.
Graham Soffel began the evening on a hot note for Maple Grove with a silky 3 from the corner and also set the offensive precedent for the rest of the night as long shots became the standard for both teams.
Mason Bosley responded early for the Cardinals with his own long-range jumper to tie the game. He would go on to post eight points and six boards in the win.
After a wide-open shot from Taylor Miller found its way in, Bryce Morrison put Randolph in the driver's seat with eight consecutive points to end the quarter.
Morrison was just one of several players to get hot from beyond the arc, adding 14 points with two threes and six assists.
Nick Swanson was able to shrink the Randolph margin to 13-7 in the closing seconds with a bucket in the post and a make from the charity stripe.
See CARDS, Page B4
Before Morrison had even cooled off, Mitchell Maycock caught fire and extended the Randolph lead to 18-8 with a make from 3, 1- of -2 in the quarter.
The only buckets the junior guard had all night came from deep and he would finish with 13 points.
Richardson had a similar night as he only recorded treys from the floor, with the first coming just before halftime to keep Maple Grove's hopes alive.
Morrison had a chance at a three-point play to close out the second quarter, but failed to make the foul shot as Randolph carried a 26-15 margin.
Following the break, Richardson came out fired up and sunk another bucket after which Riley Beaton picked up his own trey to draw the Red Dragons within seven.
A quick response from Maycock had the Cardinals riding high once more while Swanson converted on a three-point play in the paint for Maple Grove.
Facing a 10-point deficit heading into the final eight minutes, the Red Dragons needed some serious shooting and they ended up getting it- just a little too late.
Maycock's final trey set the stage for a comeback as Randolph carried a 45-33 margin with two minutes to play.
Beaton started the push with a pair of shots at the foul line and Richardson nailed another open jumper from beyond the arc.
That shot was then added to by makes from Wefing and Soffel, but the shift in momentum was short-lived.
Bosley was the recipient of a deep pass that found its way over the heads of Maple Grove defenders and into the basket for an easy deuce in the final minute.
Only 10 seconds remained for the Red Dragons to make up six points as Wefing's final shot narrowly missed its mark.
Oldro wasn't the only Randolph player to suffer through four quarters of defensive basketball as Lucas Brown logged crucial minutes for the Cardinals with a broken hand.
"How about Lucas Brown playing with a broken hand,'' Hind said. ''That's just kind of the night that (we had), just battled all night, just came and played really hard. I don't think we played particularly pretty, but I mean, (Lucas) taped it up and waited to go get a cast so he could play the game against Maple Grove. That's the kind of tough kids that we have.''
Wefing was held to nine points as Soffel and Richardson led Maple Grove with 12 each.
MAPLE GROVE (44)
BSoffel 0 0 0, Richardson 4 0 12, Wefing 3 2 9, GSoffel 4 2 12, Beaton 2 2 7, Swanson 1 2 4, Sandberg 0 0 0. Totals 12 8 44.
Maycock 4 1 13, Miller 3 1 7, Bosley 3 0 8, Morrison 5 2 14, Oldro 4 0 8. Totals 19 4 50.
3-point goals: Maycock 4, Bosley 2, Morrison 2, Richardson 4, Wefing, GSoffel 2, Beaton.
Maple Grove 7 8 10 19 - 44
Randolph 13 13 9 15 - 50