News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sports

December 26, 2013

Robinson shows gumption in comeback victory

Rockville title defense falls at first hurdle

TERRE HAUTE — The rematch of the 2012 Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic championship game didn't feature much of the cast and crew who figured prominently in last's year's title tilt.

Both teams graduated key players -- notably Robinson's Aaron Siler and Rockville's Lane Mahurin -- and both are trying to blaze a trail in the right direction with new contributors.

That both teams are finding their way was evident in a topsy-turvy affair. In the end, the game belonged to closers and Robinson proved it could finish with panache.

The Maroons' 13-0 fourth-quarter run was the difference-maker in a 44-42 victory in the finale of Thursday action at the Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic at Terre Haute North.

"We made some big plays and hopefully that's a turning point for our team. We didn't play well, but we came back and held on to a win like we did," Robinson coach Mack Thompson said.

Robinson played without its best shooter, Jason Richart, and the Maroons are still finding their feet without him. Senior Michael Akande, however, was stout for Robinson on both ends of the floor. He had 17 points, eight rebounds and six steals. The Maroons were dangerous when Akande was on his game, but he shared the credit.

"I can't take all of the credit for the steals. Our team is playing tough defense and I just happen to be the one on the rotation. I put a 50/50 on [the credit] for that," Akande said.

For Rockville, it was a painful loss as its title defense ended at the first hurdle. The Rox led by eight early in the fourth quarter and had a peak lead of nine, but couldn't shut the door on the Maroons.

Turnovers were Rockville's biggest problem. The Rox had 22 in the game, including nine in the final period.

"Its been a theme for us of late. We haven't been able to finish games off efficiently. When teams put pressure on us we have the tendency to go back to some of our bad habits," Rockville coach Ryan Luce said.

There wasn't much to separate the teams in the first half. When Robinson was at its best, it packed the middle defensively, forced Rockville's offense out of the paint and scored off Rox turnovers. Rockville had 13 first-half giveaways. Akande had four of Robinson's eight first-half steals and scored seven of their 18 first-half points.

Robinson led by five with two minutes to go in the half when the Rox began to create offense of their own off turnovers. Two buckets were scored off Robinson turnovers in Rockville's half-ending 9-3 run. Keiontre Wilkey's 3-pointer just before the halftime gun staked the Rox to a 19-18 halftime advantage.

The tension went up considerably in the second half. Rockville seemingly staked a claim on advancing to the Pizza Hut Classic quarterfinals as it started the second half with a 10-2 run to build its lead to 29-20. Thompson was irritated with Robinson's inability to run its offense and stop the Rox baseline drives.

Nothing seemed destined to change as Rockville's lead was 37-29 with 7:43 left. Then Robinson got down to business.

After the Rox had a turnover-less third quarter, Robinson began to force Rockville mistakes and the worm turned. The 13-0 run wasn't solely fueled by Rockville turnovers, but it gave the Maroons the impetus needed to break out their shell offensively too. By the 2:25 mark, Robinson led 42-37.

The last two minutes were frantic. Robinson briefly reverted to sloppy form and Wilkey doesn't need a second asking to force a steal. He scored two buckets off Robinson turnovers in the span of 20 seconds to tie the contest at 42 with 1:09 left.

Rockville forced another Robinson turnover, but were then undone but that which got them back in the game in the first place. Wilkey momentarily lost concentration above the timeline with 35 seconds left and Robinson's Connor Griffin stole the ball. Griffin was fouled on his breakaway and made one foul shot to put Robinson up 43-42.

Rockville never gave itself another chance. Turnovers on two possessions with a chance to tie or win squelched the Rox hopes for overtime or a dramatic victory.

"Each night these nip-and-tuck games we've played in? I hope they learn from each experience. It's our job to point out the information they need to take from these games," Luce said. "Right now, I don't think we're learning anything from these close battles we've had because we keep making the same mistakes."

Robinson (5-4) meets Sullivan in a quarterfinal game at 8:30 p.m. Friday. Rockville (3-2) plays Turkey Run at 5:30 p.m. in a consolation quarterfinal.

"It's going to be a regional/sectional type atmosphere for us. [Sullivan] is really good. They have guys who have been playing since their sophomore year. They're big, they can shoot, they're quick. We have to be careful with the basketball and use their aggressiveness to our advantage," Thompson said.

ROBINSON (44) -- Dirks 0-1 0-1 1, Con. Griffin 2-4 3-4 9, Hoagland 1-7 0-2 2, Bopp 5-6 0-0 10, Harrison 1-1 0-0 2, Akande 7-10 3-6 17, Tennison 1-3 0-1 3, Wright 0-0 0-0 0. 17-32 FG, 7-15 FT, 44 TP.

ROCKVILLE (42) -- Hopkins 4-7 2-2 10, K. Wilkey 6-12 2-4 17, Col. Griffin 1-5 0-0 2, Leach 0-3 0-0 0, Thurman 0-0 0-0 0, Laney 3-5 0-0 6, Paddock 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 3-3 0-1 7, R. Wilkey 0-0 0-0 0. 17-36 FG, 4-7 FT, 42 TP.

Robinson     8  10   11   15    --   44

Rockville       7   12   16     7    --   42

3-point goals -- Rob 3-10 (Con. Griffin 2-4, Tennison 1-1, Hoagland 0-3, Dirks 0-1, Bopp 0-1), Rox 4-10 (K. Wilkey 3-4, Brown 1-1, Col. Griffin 0-3, Hopkins 0-1, Paddock 0-1). Rebounds -- Rob 18 (Akande 8), Rox 21 (Leach 5). Steals -- Rob 13 (Akande 6) Rox 13 (K. Wilkey 4). Blocks -- Rob 1 (Akande), Rox 0. Turnovers -- Rob 17, Rox 22. Total fouls -- Rob 12, Rox 14. Fouled out -- Leach.

Next -- Robinson (5-4) plays Sullivan at 8:30 p.m. today. Rockville (3-3) plays Turkey Run at 5:30 p.m. today.

 

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