Christianson, Werkman lead Knights past Rebels

TYLER — In a game that will help determine the seedings for the section, the Murray Country Central Rebels came to Tyler to take on the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights boys basketball team. MCC features shot-blocking machine Bryce Hoekman, who can dominate on both ends of the floor. RTR has been playing well the last month, led by senior Drew Werkman and junior Chase Christianson, and the team has been consistently improving over the last several games. MCC has struggled with consistency and tonight was one of those nights where the ball wouldn’t drop for them, and RTR played one of their best all-around games of the season. The result was an 84-53 victory for the Knights.

“Our game plan was to try to slow Hoekman down. With a player like Bryce, you are not going to stop him most nights, with his size and his ability to shoot,” RTR head coach Daren Gravley said. “He has great touch for a big man, and he can square up and power it up too. We just wanted to have a presence around the ball, more to deter the passes inside than anything else.”

The first half started very competitively, with Hoekman scoring 8 points early and Aidan Dierks adding 6. Carter Lewis hit a three-pointer and a field goal to keep MCC close halfway through the first period.

For RTR, Andrew Meyers had four field goals in addition to a pair of blocked shots and strong rebounding. Blake Christianson was hot from the outside, scoring 12 points before being injured late in the first half. But the half belonged to Drew Werkman and Chase Christianson, who scored 12 and 9 points respectively in addition to holding Bryce Hoekman down late in the half to give RTR a commanding 45-24 lead going into halftime.

Starting the second half, RTR turned up the defense and limited Bryce Hoekman to 2 points in the second half. Ross Engelkes picked up some of the scoring for MCC with four baskets and Hudson Schryvers finished with 9 points, including a long-range shot.

“I am sure that at halftime, they probably had a conversation to get Engelkes and Schryvers going, and they produced for them. But we were able to get some stops, and our bench came in and contributed in more ways than just scoring,” Gravley said. “We have been getting some good minutes from them, they are playing good defense and rebounding, It’s good to see their confidence grow, and they are executing their roles about as well as we can expect.”

The second half was dominated by Chase Christianson, who nailed two long-range bombs, two field goals, and six free throws to take scoring honors for the night with 25 points. Drew Werkman was strong inside, hitting three field goals to give him 18 points for the game. Andrew Meyers continued his strong play with a total of 13 points, Blake Christianson came back to add a field goal, giving him 14 points on the night.

“Chase Christianson has been playing some really consistent basketball for us in the last month or so. It was nice to get off to a good start tonight, and that all starts with our defense and rebounding,” Gravley said. “We are attacking in transition, and when that isn’t there, we are doing a good job of setting up our scoring opportunities down low with Drew Werkman, Andrew Meyers and Chase making some great inside shots. We are playing with a lot of confidence right now, and we are playing off each other. We are getting contributions from everybody, not just scoring but doing their job on both offense and defense.”

MCC Head Coach Tim Cariveau said his team has struggled to find consistency and maintain intensity for a full game.

“We will go to work at practice this week to get ready for the playoffs. We have shown some glimpses of being a really good team, and then we have lapses that have cost us some wins,” Cariveau said. “It starts with rebounding and defense. If we don’t take care of the boards, it won’t turn out in our favor. You can play aggressive, but if you give teams second chances or transition baskets, you are probably not going to win. We just have to climb back on the horse and go play.”

MCC falls to 13-11, and they will take on Red Rock Central on Friday. RTR improves to 17-7 and they will travel to Edgerton on Friday.


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