2013 2014 Boys Basketball Season~R-B 77, Round Lake 69
February 19, 2014Richmond Burton High School
Richmond-Burton 77, Round Lake 69: At Round Lake, Mike Kaska scored 18 points including three 3-pointers for the Rockets in a nonconference win. (NWHerald 2/19/14)
A NWHerald Top Game of the Week: Marengo vs. Richmond-Burton
@ 7 p.m. Friday, (2/21/14) at Lou Ramirez Gymnasium
• Marengo has played well in the past few weeks and R-B is leading the Big Northern Conference East Division by a game. (NWHerald 2/17/14)
Richmond-Burton beats Genoa-Kingston
GENOA – Brandon Creason wasn't going to let Tommy Lucca beat his team.
Richmond-Burton's coach had watched the Genoa-Kingston sophomore dominate the fourth quarter, so with Creason's team up three points in the closing seconds of Friday's Big Northern East contest, Creason had his team foul Lucca instead of letting him attempt a game-tying three.
Lucca hit both free throws. After the Rockets' Joe St. Pierre missed his two free-throw attempts on the ensuing possession, Lucca had one more chance with three seconds left, but his desperation attempt was no good, as the Rockets held on for a 66-65 win.
Richmond-Burton (17-6, 8-1 Big Northern East) remained in control of the conference. The Cogs fall to 14-9 and 6-4 in league play.
Lucca still finished the game with 33 points – 17 in the fourth quarter.
"As on fire as he was we didn't want to give him the opportunity to make the shot," Creason said of his team's foul on Lucca, which came with under 10 seconds remaining. "He's a ton. I wish he was a senior."
Sam Kaufman led the Rockets with 23 points. Freshman Joe St. Pierre had 20, despite sitting out for an extended period of time in the second half with foul trouble.
"We're glad he's on our team. He's a big kid, I've got to keep reminding myself that he played eighth-grade basketball last year," Creason said of St. Pierre. "There's times he's going to look like that. I thought he was a handful for them tonight." (NWHerald 2/15/14)
Richmond-Burton 86, North Boone 46: At Poplar Grove, Sam Kaufman scored 15 points for the Rockets in a BNC East win. Also for R-B, Joey St. Pierre and Jordan Hahn each had 12 points and Mike Kaska added 11. (NWHerald 2/12/14)
R-B scoring system measures players' value
Richmond-Burton forward Danny Rygiel occasionally chirps at other players about his prowess on the basketball floor.
But there is nothing unsportsmanlike about Rygiel’s trash-talking. It’s directed toward his own teammates because he leads the Rockets in scoring.
Rygiel is far from leading R-B in points. In fact, the other four starters – Sam Kaufman, Mike Kaska, Joey St. Pierre and Brian Wells – all average more points a game than Rygiel. Rockets coach Brandon Creason prefers another kind of scoring to judge how players are contributing to the team.
R-B grades players each game with a plus/minus scoring system that adds or subtracts points in 14 statistical categories. Rockets assistant coach Brent Mansky approached Creason about the possiblity of using plus/minus four years ago. Once he showed Creason what it’s about, the head coach was on board. The system for basketball is similar to what sabermetrics is to baseball.
“Do you help or hurt us on the floor?” Creason said, describing the gist of plus/minus. “What do you do for us? Danny is typical, he’s not a scorer, but he’s leading our team in plus/minus. He takes charges, he rebounds, he dives for loose balls, he does all the things that show how valuable a player is. It’s cool because those guys don’t always get the pub.”
Rygiel is R-B’s king of taking charges, which earns him five points each time. In R-B’s 68-65 victory over Grant for Marengo’s E.C. Nichols Tournament championship, Rygiel scored 43 plus/minus points with 25 for five charging fouls he drew. Steals and offensive rebounds are worth four points each, defensive rebounds are three and field goals are two or three (if it’s a 2- or 3-pointer). There are negative points for field-goal misses, fouls and free-throw misses.
Players sometimes mention to each other and the coaches during games to be sure they were credited with a steal or a deflection (plus-1).
Creason enjoys how the Rockets (16-5) have embraced the scoring system, chasing Rygiel as the plus/minus leader more than Sam Kaufman as the scoring leader. Rygiel, meanwhile, is chasing his older brother Matt’s plus/minus records. Matt’s 34.8 average a game in 2012 set the team record, while his twin Zach had 26.2 that season.
“We take averages for the season, and right now I’m in the lead,” said Danny Rygiel, who averages 30.3 plus/minus points a game. “It gives you a whole new way of scoring, not just by points. It shows you don’t always score points, but you’re still contributing to the team in a positive way.”
Creason has plus/minus records for games and seasons posted in the locker room and says the players love the concept.
When Creason was asked for his scoring leaders this season, Creason said it would take some time. However, he would have been able to produce plus/minus numbers almost instantly.
“The kids really get into it, it’s a better overall indicator of how you did,” Creason said.
Mike Kaska (28.3), Joey St. Pierre (22.1) and Kaufman (21.0) are the closest to Rygiel in plus/minus.
“Everyone wants to get the charges,” said Kaufman, who leads R-B at 16.2 points a game. “It creates more of a competition. It might be for the coaches, but it creates competition for us because everyone wants to make their teammates better. I need a couple more charges and deflections, and less missed shots.”
Although Rygiel, a 6-foot-3 senior, strives to stay ahead of Kaska, he also wants to catch Matt’s school record, though he senses a conspiracy is afoot to drive him even harder.
“Sometimes I feel like I get gypped on rebounds,” Rygiel said. “That’s just Creason, he wants my score lower. He doesn’t want me to beat my brother. I’m trying my best to beat [Matt] and [Creason’s] taking away points.” (NWHerald 2/10/14
Wilmot, 59, RB 53: @ Richmond the Rockets lost in nonconfernece play. Joey St. Pierre led RB (18-6) with 16 points & Sam Kaufman added 12. (NWHerald 2/9/14)
Richmond-Burton defense prevails over cold-shooting Harvard
RICHMOND – It was obvious early on that points would not come easily in the Big Northern East division clash between the Richmond-Burton and Harvard boys basketball teams in Richmond Friday night.
The Rockets’ defense made things difficult all night for Harvard and, because of that, were able to have a relatively off offensive night in their 58-35 win on senior night.
The Rockets missed 21 shots in the first half yet still managed to lead 29-18, mainly because of their defense.
“I thought our defensive intensity was good especially after everything else was so flat in the first half,” R-B coach Brandon Creason said. “It helped that we started to make shots in the second half, but we didn’t play as well as we’re capable tonight.”
At the beginning of the game, R-B had four of the five tallest individuals on the floor, and they used that length to make shooting difficult for Harvard.
The Hornets shot just 13 of 37 from the field and 2 of 23 from behind the arc. Senior Danny Rygiel was a big part of the Rocket defensive effort.
“I’ve always prided myself on defense and, if I can’t score, I have to do something to help the team,” Rygiel said. “I’ve always wanted to be that kid that makes the hustle plays and makes big stops on defense that helps us get back on offense.”
Rygiel was one of a few Rockets that made things difficult for Harvard leading scorer Justin Nolen. After scoring six points in the first quarter, Nolen was never able to string together enough offense to keep his team in it.
The Rockets (16-5, 6-1 BNC East) didn’t come out flat in the second half and began to further pull away. Sam Kaufman led all scorers with 14 points, including 10 in the first half. Senior Brian Wells finished with 10 and freshman Blaine Bayer added 9.
The Hornets (9-13, 2-4 BNC East) turned the ball over 17 times and couldn’t improve on their 8-4 record in 2014 games.
“We couldn’t make shots and you have to control the ball and make those shots when you’re open against R-B, and that was our biggest problem today,” Harvard coach Donnie Nolen said.
“They always give me all that they have, it just wasn’t enough tonight.”
Nolen and Tate Miller led the Hornets with 12 points each and Peyton Schneider added seven. (NWHerald 2/8/14)
Richmond-Burton 62, Rockford Christian 35: At Richmond, the Rockets won big in Big Northern Conference East division play. Sam Kaufman led the team with 16 points and Mike Kaska added 13. (NWHerald 2/6/14)
Blaine Bayer scores 19, leads Richmond-Burton past Marengo
MARENGO – A certain Richmond-Burton freshman has drawn a great deal of attention for his prowess on the basketball court and ability to affect games.
But Saturday night, it was not 6-foot-8 Joey St. Pierre making most of the noise, it was his freshman classmate Blaine Bayer, a foot shorter, lightning quick and sure to be a longtime headache for Rockets’ opponents.
Bayer’s outside shots had not been falling regularly, although it was difficult to tell the way he played against Marengo. Bayer hit his first five shots, four of which were 3-pointers, to spark R-B on a pivotal run in its 70-57 Big Northern Conference East Division boys basketball victory at Homer “Bill” Barry Gymnasium.
“He beat me in P-I-G the other day, and I told him it was killing me to lose to someone who’s made one 3 this year,” R-B coach Brandon Creason said. “He shoots every day after practice, he just hasn’t hit his shots. It was good to see him get some success. He’s going to get better and better, but he was pretty good tonight.”
Bayer actually had three 3s coming into the game and more than doubled that total by early in the second half. He hit a pair of 3s in the first quarter, then picked up a loose ball at the top of the key and buried another at the halftime buzzer for a 29-24 lead.
“I got a lucky bounce and was in the right spot at the right time,” Bayer said. “I just got it and shot it.”
Bayer hit 5 of 7 from the field and 5 of 6 free throws for his season-high 19 points.
“I always work on my shooting, I just need to get more confident,” Bayer said. “My teammates did a great job getting me the ball and I tried to knock them down.”
Bayer opened the second half by blowing by Marengo’s defense for a layup, then hitting his last 3 of the game.
“So far in the season he’s been a ballhandler for us,” Rockets forward Danny Rygiel said. “That he made a lot of buckets tonight was really helpful. That was a huge uplift going into halftime.”
R-B (13-5 overall, 4-1 BNC East) trailed Marengo, 24-23, late in the first half, but went on a 22-5 run for a 45-29 lead with 2:55 remaining in the third quarter.
Marengo (11-9, 2-3) jumped out quickly with guard Zach Knobloch scoring its first 10 points with a pair of 3s and two other mid-range jumpers. Knobloch, who scored one point in Friday’s 54-45 win at Harvard, finished with six 3s and a game-high 26 points.
“He’s been really consistent, other than last night,” Indians coach Will Benson said. “He’s been as consistent of a player as we’ve had in terms of effort and shooting. We’re doing some good things, we just weren’t as consistent at the defensive end.”
Sam Kaufman scored 18 points, Brian Wells added 12 and St. Pierre had nine for the Rockets, who shot 47.6 percent (20 for 42) from the field and 73.3 percent (22 for 30) from the line.
Creason felt R-B’s 1-2-2 pressure, which the Rockets often used at full- or three-quarter-court, paid dividends later in the game.
“The theory of our ball press is it’s going to be harder to do things in the fourth quarter,” Creason said. “We’re going to keep it on you and try to wear you down.”
Adam Rogutich added nine points for Marengo. (NWHerald 2/2/14)
RB 64, Antioch 40: @ Richmond, Sam Kaufman & Mike Kaska each scored 12 pts. to lead the Rockets to a nonconverence win. RB center Joe St. Pierre added 11 pts., while eight other players scored pints fo rthe Rockets. (NWHerald 1/19/14)
R-B boys knock off G-K
RICHMOND — Richmond-Burton guard Sam Kaufman was tired of hearing about Genoa-Kingston and the Cogs' good season.
"We hear about them all the time and, before the season, we heard them say 'win conference or bust' ", Kaufman said. "Anytime you hear something like that you want to come out and take it to them."
The Rockets did just that in a 66-52 win over the visiting Cogs in a Big Northern Conference East division game.
R-B jumped out to an early 9-2 lead, forcing a Cogs' timeout, behind points from five different players including seven from freshman center Joe St. Pierre. With the big man working under the basket, the floor opened up for the Rockets' shooters who moved the ball around effectively.
Kaufman, who had 10 of his game-high 18 points in the first half, got the already energized crowd on its feet when he dunked after grabbing an offensive rebound to put the Rockets up 25-16 midway through the second quarter, forcing another G-K timeout.
"It's a huge statement for us to beat them," Kaufman said. "This was one of our better games and it's a statement to the rest of the conference that we're still here."
Coming out of the half, R-B started fast once again behind Mike Kaska's three 3-pointers on three straight possessions. When the Cogs shifted their focus to Kaska, who had the hot hand, the Rockets found other ways to score as Reggie Banks added points in the paint along with Danny Rygiel and Jake Kaufman.
"That first half of basketball helped because you're feeling good," Kaska said of his nine points in the first 1:36 of the third quarter. "It feels great when your teammates find you when you're open and have confidence in you to make plays."
While the Rockets (14-4 overall, 4-1 BNC East) cruised offensively throughout, coach Brandon Creason was more excited about his team's defensive effort, something that had been lacking recently.
Creason put a huge emphasis on defense in the practices leading up to the game and was happy to positive results after the work. The Cogs (12-7, 3-1) have some explosive players on offense like guard Tommy Lucca, who scored a team-high 13 points, and was the target of an aggressive Rockets defense.
"I thought that we anticipated really well tonight especially on defense," Creason said. "Defense is the one thing I tried to get us back to and we really focused on defensive intensity and the kids responded."
The Rockets forced eight first-half turnovers, 13 on the game, which helped take G-K out of rhythm on offense.
"We felt like we couldn't let this one get by," Creason said. "If we fall down two games (in conference play), it would be a real big climb and we thought that this is one that couldn't get away." (NWHerald 1/18/14)
Johnsburg boys, with freshman's help, beat R-B
JOHNSBURG — For more than three months, Warren Nusser had Monday marked on his calendar and had been looking forward to that date.
The Chicago Bulls were playing the Los Angeles Lakers at the United Center and the Johnsburg freshman had tickets. But instead of going, he went to practice and joined his teammates as they got ready for a rivalry game against Richmond-Burton on Tuesday.
"I was upset about missing the game and I was looking forward to it," Nusser said. "But a game against Richmond-Burton was better and it was a good choice."
Nusser had a stellar game and helped the Skyhawks defeat the Rockets, 43-38, in front of a pumped up crowd that Johnsburg coach Mike Toussaint called, "Seattle loud."
The 6-foot-4 freshman came off the bench and scored nine points for the Skyhawks, including a big 3-pointer in the third quarter that pulled his team within striking distance, before a Steve Dixon 3 gave the Skyhawks their first lead of the game, 31-28, with less than a minute to play in the third quarter.
Johnsburg (4-14 overall) never gave up the lead and played stifling defense the rest of the way to hang for the win.
The Rockets entered Tuesday's game as one of the best teams in the area in large part because of their aggressive style of play and constant full court press. Toussaint knew that, in order to give their best effort, the Skyhawks needed a good practice Monday with everybody present to prepare.
"It's a big step for a freshman to play on varsity and I don't want him to get complacent," Toussaint said of Nusser. "We had a heart to heart and he skipped that Bulls game and showed commitment to the team and had probably one of his best practices."
The Skyhawks worked on dealing with the Rockets press by adding a new inbounds play and spent a lot of Monday's practice playing 3 on 9.
Toussaint wanted to make sure his players could handle the pressure and hoped the added defenders would make the regular 5 on 5 play look as if the floor was wide open.
"What [R-B] does, you don't see every night," Toussaint said. "We had one practice to get ready for it and worked on cuts and reversing the ball and I told them the floor will look a lot more open."
Johnsburg committed 12 turnovers but none on inbounds plays, when the Rockets applied the most pressure. The calm handling of the ball in the backcourt made it easier for them to set up plays and run the offense as they were playing from behind for the majority of the game.
R-B jumped out to an early 12-5 lead in the first quarter behind Reggie Banks' eight points. He finished with a team-high 12. Johnsburg tied the score at 18 by halftime but it wasn't until Dixon's 3-pointer late in the third that gave the Skyhawks the first lead.
"Richmond is one of the top teams in the area and we knew we had to be on our game," Dixon said. "We had to close out on shooters and contain Joe. St. Pierre underneath if we wanted to be successful."
The Rockets committed 17 turnovers in the game and couldn't grab the lead back as they struggled to put together a strong fourth quarter. Mike Kaska scored their first point, a free-throw, with just 3:40 remaining in the game.
"We can't go on the road and turn it over if you want to win," R-B coach Brandon Creason said. "Records don't matter in a rivalry game and we didn't do anything well tonight.
"We played hard but couldn't make shots." (NWHerald 1/14/14)
Get them next time: Richmond-Burton lost to Burlington Central, 70-46, in a matchup of two of the perennial Big Northern Conference East Division contenders on Friday. Both teams have one loss with a long way to go, but the regular-season finale between them at R-B’s Lou Ramirez Gymnasium likely will have division title meaning.
“It seems like we have one close game with B.C. and they drill us in the other one,” R-B coach Brandon Creason said. “I don’t know what it is, they always drill us one of the two.”
That could bode well for the next meeting, but the Rockets have a lot to take care of between now and then.(NWHerald 1/14/14)
Burlington Central beats R-B in BNC East contest
By JOE STEVENSON – email@example.com
BURLINGTON – Following a lackluster first-quarter performance, Richmond-Burton coach Brandon Creason tried to rouse his players against Burlington Central.
“We played as bad as we can and we’re only down two possessions,” Creason said.
Instead of turning things around, the Rockets spent most of the next three quarters proving Creason wrong.
R-B was no match for Burlington in the contest of the two sets of Rockets who annually battle for the Big Northern Conference East Division title. Burlington nailed nine 3-pointers, five in the third quarter, and dumped R-B, 70-46, in their BNC East Division boys basketball game.
“There was a lack of intensity all week [in practice], we were goofing around the whole time,” forward Danny Rygiel said. “And the scoreboard showed it. It’s a good learning point for us, we know we’re not unstoppable.”
R-B (10-4 overall, 2-1 BNC East) committed 22 turnovers, nine in the first quarter, and was outrebounded 40-25. Creason was equally frustrated with defensive adjustments in the Rockets’ 1-2-2 zone.
Burlington guard Sean Fitzgerald hit six 3s, five from the left corner, and finished with his season-high of 21 points.
“Throw it in, kick it out, shoot a 3,” Creason said. “And we just acted like we had no idea they were going to do that. There was a lot of joking around in practice the other night and we jumped them about it. Give BC credit, they kicked our butt from the jump to the end.”
R-B trailed 13-7 after the first quarter and was down, 24-17, at halftime. Burlington (11-4, 3-1) jumped all over R-B with a 25-point third quarter as Jake Schutta scored 10 points, with two 3s, and Fitzgerald hit two 3s. He added three more 3s in the fourth.
“[The left corner] is one of my favorite spots and we knew that could be open against their 1-2-2 zone,” Fitzgerald said. “Our game plan was to play it in and out and get that open shot.”
Forward Sam Kaufman led R-B with 17 points. R-B could not get closer than 16 points in the fourth quarter.
“We came out flat and couldn’t get anything going,” Kaufman said. “Everyone has nights like this. Our [next] game against [Genoa-Kingston] might be on Friday, but it starts Monday in practice. We’ve had little issues with focus, we’re patting ourselves on the back too much. We have to get at it all week.”
Brian Wells added nine points for R-B. Burlington’s 6-foot-9 center Duncan Ozburn scored 17 points, grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and blocked four shots.
“We shot ourselves in the foot a littler earlier in the [division] season [against G-K],” Burlington coach Brett Porto said. “So I knew they were hungry to get back in the [division] race. We talked at halftime about keeping our foot on the gas offensively. The kids came out and played a really good 16 minutes [in the second half].” (NWHerald 1/10/14)
Richmond-Burton's Kaufman drives to succeed
By JOE STEVENSON – firstname.lastname@example.org
RICHMOND – Sam Kaufman draws inspiration from any number of former or current basketball players with whom he has crossed paths.
First, there is his father, Tom, a former player at NCAA Division I Northeastern University. There also is East Troy, Wis. coach Darryl Rayfield and his son Rion, who plays professional basketball in Denmark. And there are several of the other top local players who work out at Hard 2 Guard in Spring Grove with Kaufman.
Kaufman looks at successes of those he knows and strives someday to get there himself.
“I’ve always been inspired because of my dad, and Darryl and Rion Rayfield,” said Kaufman, a 6-foot-4 junior forward for Richmond-Burton. “I get inspired by that kind of stuff. I hope to get to that point.”
To hear Kaufman’s coaches speak about him, his type of insatiable desire and willingness to work are difficult to equal. Kaufman has been a driving force for R-B, which at 10-3 is the area’s second-winningest team (behind 11-2 Crystal Lake South).
“Not everybody’s willing to face things they don’t do very well,” R-B coach Brandon Creason said. “This past summer, Sam got better at what he wasn’t good at. His shot has come so far. There’s no magic trick as to why he’s playing so well.”
Kaufman, who averages 14.8 points a game, can get to the rim, but has become more of a 3-point threat this season. Creason doesn’t use the “couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a boat” line anymore like he did when Kaufman was a freshman.
“With Sam, he has that never-satisfied attitude,” said Steve Preston, who trains players at Hard 2 Guard, which operates in the Your World Fitness building. “He has a tireless work ethic and a dedication for development. The things he can do and the comfort level he has now are huge assets for Richmond moving forward.
"The younger kids coming up – Joey St. Pierre, Sam’s little brother Jake, Blaine Bayer (all freshmen on R-B’s varsity) – those guys come to our place and Sam’s setting the tone. They’re getting in the gym and individually working on their games."
Kaufman started for the Rockets last season and had a good AAU season with Fundamental U, where he played with Cary-Grove junior guard Jason Gregoire, who also works out with Kaufman at Hard 2 Guard.
“My jumpshot, ballhandling, I’m a lot stronger and more athletic,” said Kaufman, citing where he felt he had improved. “I put in a lot of work over the summer and improved my game all-around, not in just one area.”
Senior guard Brian Wells said Kaufman just adds more toughness to a bunch that already plays hard.
“He’s definitely matured more, that comes with just getting older,” Wells said. “He makes some good decisions. He also is very talented, his skills have improved, he’s gotten taller and stronger and his 3-point shooting is better. He’s very passionate about the game.”
Creason has been contacted by mainly NCAA D-III schools at this point about Kaufman, although his size and proficiency from the outside could draw more interest later this year. Both Creason and Preston agree this will be a big summer for Kaufman in terms of colleges.
“I don’t like to talk about the AAU season during the high school season because the commitment now should be with Richmond,” Preston said. “We’ve had the conversation and he understands he’s going to have to work on issues he had last year in AAU. He’s going to be very well-prepared.”
Because working on things is what makes Kaufman go.
“He has to improve on some things. We’ve talked to him about getting his shot off quicker and things like that,” Creason said. “ I can tell you one thing about Sam, if you tell him to work hard on something, he will. Athletically, anybody who recruits him is going to be happy. He’s going to put the time in. (NWHerald 1/7/14)
Richmond-Burton rallies past Grant for E.C. Nichols championship
By JEFF ARNOLD – email@example.com
MARENGO – For the better part of three quarters Saturday night, Richmond-Burton struggled to find any offensive rhythm, hurried out of its comfort zone by Grant's tenacious tempo.
The Rockets tried to keep pace but were never able to erase what seemed to be insurmountable deficits. But for the second straight night, Sam Kaufman kept R-B in the game, finding ways to hit one timely shot after another.
Trailing by two points entering the fourth quarter of the E.C. Nichols Tournament championship game, though, the Rockets finally were able to get over the hump. And once they did, everything changed, allowing R-B to hold off Grant in a thrilling 68-65 win.
And while nothing seemed to go exactly as planned for the Rockets, the finishing stretch more than made up for the frustration R-B was forced to play through for much of the night.
"We were tough enough and we had the mental fortitude to win the game," said Kaufman, who scored a game-high 29 points.
"As soon as we got [the score] tied, I think we just had this feeling we were going to be able to take it the rest of the way."
A Joe St. Pierre dunk early in the fourth quarter drew R-B (8-3) even. But Grant, which got 25 points from Matt Malmberg, quickly pushed its lead back up to four. But a quick 9-0 Rockets run, capped by a Kaufman 3-point field goal, gave R-B a 64-59 lead with 2:47 remaining.
The rest came down to the Rockets holding on for dear life.
"We finally got the lead and were able to do some things a little differently with the lead," R-B coach Brandon Creason said.
Grant cut the deficit to 66-64 with 31 seconds remaining, again forcing the Rockets into some turnovers. But R-B was able to extend the lead on late free throws by Danny Rygiel and Brian Wells to hold on for the three-point victory.
Kaufman played a major role, giving the Rockets some level of consistency when Grant's speed and pressure kept the Rockets from doing what they wanted to offensively.
"He's unstoppable," said St. Pierre, who scored 14 points in the win to go along with nine by Mike Kaska. "He gets the ball and ... he's just unstoppable."
The victory not only gave R-B the tournament championship, but the five-game winning streak during the holiday event provided a big dose of experience to an otherwise young team. In addition to knocking off rival Marengo on Friday night to reach Saturday night's championship game, learning to handle pressure like the Rockets had to against Grant will – Creason believes – go a long way once R-B starts Big Northern Conference play.
"As a coach, every Christmas tournament, you want to take a step forward," Creason said. "And I would say we certainly took a step forward. (NWHerald 12/28/13)
Richmond-Burton Thanksgiving Tournament
Wauconda 60, Richmond-Burton 52: At Richmond, the Rockets trailed by 12 points at the half and couldn’t quite come all the way back in the tourney loss. Sam Kaufman led the team with 25 points, which included eight baskets and a 7-for-9 performance from the line. Mike Kaska added three 3-pointers for a nine-point game and Brian wells added nine points in the loss. (NWHerald 11/30/13)
Blue Streaks too tall of a task
WOODSTOCK – Woodstock center Damian Stoneking eagerly had awaited facing Richmond-Burton freshman Joey St. Pierre, with whom he worked out over the summer.
It would have been a matchup of two of the area’s tallest and best post players, but it never materialized. St. Pierre suffered a strained calf muscle recently and missed Saturday night’s game, which was costly for the Rockets.
Without the 6-foot-8 center, Woodstock exploited R-B inside with Stoneking scoring a game-high 24 points as the Blue Streaks picked up a 56-53 nonconference boys basketball victory at James M. Shipley Memorial Gymnasium.
Stoneking, who is 6-7, and St. Pierre both trained at Steve Preston’s Hard 2 Guard in Spring Grove in the offseason.
“I was really looking forward to playing against him,” Stoneking said. “We do post work together. They had a lot of heart inside; they played well against me.”
But between Stoneking, 6-7 sophomore Nick Kubiak and 6-5 Mason Sutter, the Blue Streaks (2-6) had too much size for R-B (4-3). The Streaks owned a huge rebounding advantage (44-21) and fed Stoneking throughout the game. The senior hit seven of his last eight field goals, including a pair of third-quarter dunks.
“We didn’t know [St. Pierre] was out until we came out to warm up,” Streaks coach Alex Baker said. “We spread [the offense] out more, with four out and Damian in the post to get him more room to work. We felt at halftime we could get him more touches, so that was a point of emphasis.”
Stoneking scored 14 of his total in the second half. Sutter finished with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and Kubiak had six points and 10 rebounds.
R-B was down 17 at one point in the third quarter, but battled back with six 3-pointers in the second half. Reserve Nick Hogan came in and hit three 3s. Forward Sam Kaufman led R-B with 20 points and hit nine in the fourth quarter.
“We always play hard, but we played harder in the third and fourth quarters than we did in the first half,” Kaufman said. “We have to come out with more intensity. Once we do that, we’ll be able to hit shots and get to the rim more.”
The Rockets also were without starting guard Brian Wells, who missed the game for personal reasons. That meant 6-1 forward Grant Miller and freshman guard Blaine Bayer made their first varsity starts.
“A lot of things we do are keyed through Joe (St. Pierre),” R-B coach Brandon Creason said. “It was a lot to ask for Grant and Blaine. And we couldn’t hit a shot. We had some guys who usually don’t get a lot of minutes who came in and did some good things. Nick Hogan did a great job and hit some big shots.”
R-B forced six Woodstock turnovers in the fourth quarter and hacked into the lead. The Rockets trailed 54-45 after Mike Kaska’s 3 with 1:37 remaining and kept chipping away. Kaufman scored on a court-length drive for a layup with two seconds to go for the final margin, which was the closest R-B had been since early in the game. (12/15/13)
RB 64, R-ford Christian 47: @ Richmond, Mike Kaska scored 26 pts., to lead the Rockets to the BNC East Division victory. Kaska made five 3 pointers in the game. Sam Kaufman scored 12 pts., & Joey St. Pierre added eight in the win. (NWHerald 12/13/13)
RB 52, Byron 51: @ Richmond, the Rockets won the BNC crossover in overtime behind Joe St. Pierre's game high 23 pts., seven of which came in the overtime period. Sam Kaufman added 20 pts., for the Rockets in the win. (NWHerald 12/7/13)
Wauconda 60, RB 52: @ Richmond, the Rockets trialed by 12 pts., at the half & couldn't quite come all the way back in the tourney loss. Sam Kaufman led the team with 25 pts., which included eight baskets and a 7-for-9 performance from the line. Mike Kaska added three 3-pointers for a nine-point game & Brian Wells added nine pts., in the loss. (NWHerald 11/30/13)
RB's win puts Gaters in championship game:
By JOE STEVENSON – firstname.lastname@example.org
RICHMOND – Crystal Lake South had pretty much everything going well from its first basket, an Austin Rogers’ dunk.
The Gators’ tough defense and huge rebounding advantage sparked the transition game in a 70-44 victory over Wauconda Tuesday night in the Johnsburg/Richmond-Burton Thanksgiving Tournament at R-B’s Louis Ramirez Gymnasium.
The win, along with R-B’s 62-44 win against Grayslake North in the second game, puts South into Saturday’s 7:30 p.m. championship game against the top finisher from the Johnsburg side.
“Austin had that dunk to start and that always riles a team up,” Gators coach Matt LePage said. “Our running game got going and we got some easy baskets in transition. If we can rebound like that [a 44-28 edge] and play unselfish basketball, we’ll be pretty good.”
South (2-0) had things under control by halftime, 39-18, with 16 of 27 field-goal shooting in the first half. Rogers had 13 and forward Chris Mahoney added nine in the first half.
“We were really focused on rebounding and beating them off the glass because we knew they had big guys,” said Mahoney, who hit five of his first eight shots, including a pair of 3-pointers. “We shared the ball well and got layups. I like making a good pass sometimes better than a shot, but it’s always nice to hit a couple.”
Rogers, a 6-foot-2 senior, finished with game-highs of 25 points and 10 rebounds. Mahoney (6-4) offers the Gators some versatility as LePage refers to him as a point forward.
“Chris is a big X factor,” LePage said. “He knows it too. He slows the game down and takes great shots. He’s a big shotmaker for us. He’s stepped into our second role as a scorer and so far, so good.”
Garrett Bright came off the bench to add 10 points for South. Dion Head led Wauconda (1-1) with 18.
R-B (1-1) started sluggishly, but guard Mike Kaska’s three first-half 3-pointers sparked the Rockets. North (0-2) led 9-4 before two Kaska 3s gave R-B the lead for good.
“We were confused on what offense we were running at first,” said Kaska, who led all players with 21 points. “Once coach [Brandon Creason] called timeout and made the joke that he needed an hour to tell us what to do, we got it going and took off.”
That occurred a little more than two minutes into a scoreless game. R-B’s three-quarter-court zone pressure was instrumental in getting R-B some fast-break baskets.
“The second night always seems flat,” Creason said. “It’s hard to match the opening-night adrenaline. We started executing some half-court stuff better and got some easy shots. Mike Kaska really stretched the floor for us.”
Kaska finished with five 3s, while Sam Kaufman and freshman guard Blaine Bayer each added 11 points. Dom Diprova led the Knights with 16 points and four 3s. (NWherald 11/27/13)
RB Thanksgiving Tournament: @ Richmond, Crystal Lake South defeated RB (59-55). Sam Kaufman scored 14 pts., to lead the Rockets (0-1) with Brian Wells adding 12 pts., (NWHerald 11/26/13)
2013-14 Team Preview Capsule~RB
Coach: Brandon Creason (fifth season)
Last year's finish: 13-17 overall, 9-3 BNC East (second place)
Key returning players: Sam Kaufman, jr., G, 6-4; Danny Rygiel, sr., F, 6-3; Brian Wells, sr., G, 5-9
Key new players: Joey St. Pierre, fr., C, 6-8; Blaine Bayer, fr., G, 5-8
About the Rockets: RB has experienced players with Kaufman, Wells, & Rygiel and will add big man St. Pierre in the middle. He has played a lot of travel basketball & Creason figures St. Pierre can be a force in the middle for the Rockets this season. RB looks like it's ready to make another run for the BNC East championship. (NWHerald 11/26/13)