Early-season showdown

Boike leads Blackjacks to win in Section 3A Championship rematch

Photo by Kim Nelson: Russell-Tyler-Ruthton senior Drew Werkman goes up for a layup during the Knights’ boys basketball game against Dawson-Boyd on Thursday night in Tyler.

TYLER — In a matchup between the Section Finalists from last season, the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights welcomed the Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks to town. Both teams were hit hard by graduation last year, with Dawson-Boyd losing four seniors and RTR losing eight seniors. So it was really two different teams facing each other in the season opener for both teams. DB is led by marvelous multi-sport athlete Brayson Boike, who along side Drew Hjelmeland, give this team both size and talent. RTR returns last years Player of the Year in Drew Werkman, and both teams were looking for the chemistry to build on with their new rosters. But in the end, it was Boike leading his DB team to a 75-62 victory.

RTR started out hot, and built an eleven point lead early. But thanks to Brayson Boike scoring 19 points in the first half, DB was able to catch up, and only trailed 34-32 at halftime. Werkman had 14 points in the first half, and along with Chase Christianson scoring nine points, RTR held the lead for almost all of the half. Drew Hjelmeland contributed seven points to help DB stay close.

There were very few fouls called in the first half of a fast-paced game, and both teams showed a little bit of early season rust as they went into halftime.

Dawson-Boyd came out in the second half with some hot-shooting from sophomore Gunner Liebl and freshman guard Carson Stratmoen. Liebl hit three 3-pointers and Stratmoen nailed two more to give DB their first lead since early in the game, at 44-43. With the score tied at 50-50, Dawson-Boyd went on a 16-5 run to give them a comfortable 66-55 lead with just over eight minutes to go. Drew Werkman kept RTR in the game, scoring 13 points in the second half, and Luke Schreurs and Blake Christianson had 3-pointers to make the score 68-59 with three minutes left. But Boike had 13 points in the second half to keep DB in the lead, and they were able to run out the clock, making the final score 75-62.

For RTR, Werkman finished with 27 points, followed by Chase Christianson with 11. Carson Gylling had eight points, Schreurs and Blake Christianson each had seven, and Eli Determan rounded out the scoring with two points. For Dawson-Boyd, Boike ended up with 32 points, and Drew Hjelmeland totaled 15. Gunner Liebl finished up with 13, and Carson Stratmoen had 10 points. Kade Solem had three points and Gunnar Olson had two to finish off the scoring for the Blackjacks.

Winning coach Cory Larson said after the game, “It was a hard-fought game. and talking to Coach Gravley, both of us learned some things about our team. Talking with my assistant coach, he pointed out that we were down by 11 in the first half, but we didn’t hang our heads, and got back in the game, only down two at halftime. The second half, we had one or two runs that gave us the lead. We just two guys returning from our starting lineup last year, so we are still trying to jell together. Once you get into your season, those summer league and pickup games don’t matter much anymore. We knew that both teams were going to look different, and early in the game, we didn’t find a rhythm. So there are a few things in the mental checklist that we will work on tomorrow, and just find ways to get better.”

RTR head coach Daren Gravley said, “We had guys contributing all over the place, and our bench gave us some good quality minutes. Blake did a good job of getting us in our sets, he is our floor general. Luke Schreurs hit a couple of shots, and Carson played well, so we had contributions from everyone that played. The goal is for us to be playing our best basketball in March, and this was a good test for us. Dawson-Boyd shot the ball really well from the perimeter, and even though we were playing good defense, they hit a lot of three pointers. When those kind of things happen,, you can’t let that get you down. You still have to maintain your focus, and come down to try to score on our end, then go back on defense 35 seconds later. We are a young team, and we are learning and buying into to what we are trying to do. But I was quite pleased with our effort tonight against a good team.”


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