Renegades wrap up season at divisionals

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SCN photo by Mikaela Koski

Renegade senior John Schladweiler looks for an open teammate against Plenty Coups Saturday morning.

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SCN photo by Mikaela Koski

Panther senior Rylan Gauthier goes up for a basket against Melstone.

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SCN photo by Mikaela Koski

Park City junior Connor McNeil takes the ball to the basket against Bridger in the championship game last Saturday.

The Reed Point-Rapelje Renegades gave it their all against a tough field of competitors at the Class C Southern Divisional Tournament last weekend.

Tournament play began on Thursday afternoon with a very difficult task for the Renegades – take down the Melstone Broncs, the third ranked team in the state.

The two teams’ offenses are very similar, emphasizing ball control and waiting to shoot until a teammate has the best possible shot. From tipoff the game was played like a chess match, with players taking deliberate action and trying to anticipate future moves.

Such an offensive strategy takes time off the clock, and with three minutes remaining in the first quarter, the score was Melstone three, RPR two. As the period ran out, the Broncs made a couple quick shots, and the Renegades struggled to get shots to fall. At the end of the first period, Melstone had a 9-5 lead.

With about six minutes left in the half, a three-point shot by senior Derek Peterson cut the Melstone lead to one point. From that point, though, Bronc shots began to fall. Melstone took advantage of some RPR mistakes by scoring quickly, and the Renegades could not make the shots to answer back. At halftime, the Broncs were up 25-8.

The RPR defense came out of the break strong, holding Melstone scoreless for four and a half minutes. The Renegades were able to answer the Mel-stone offense at the end of the quarter, and in the third period both teams scored nine points.

The final quarter of play was similar to the third. The RPR defense played well, holding Melstone to eight points. The Renegades were only able to score eight points, too, though, so the lead the Broncs built in the second quarter remained. Melstone won the game, 42-25.

Senior Trevor Herzog led the RPR offense with 11 points. Junior Tristan Gieser put up six, and senior John Schladweiler scored five points.

Herzog also led the team in rebounds with six boards. Gieser and senior Payton Severin each grabbed five.

RPR coach Jerry Thompson described opening the tournament against Melstone as a “daunting task.” He felt the Renegades handled it well, and was extremely proud of how the boys competed. They played pretty evenly with the Broncs, with the exception of the second quarter.

In that second period, Thompson explained, the players lost mental focus for a couple possessions, allowing Melstone some easy points off turnovers.

“I thought we did an outstanding job on defense, holding them to 42 total points,” Thompson said. “We just struggled to score against their defense.”

The loss sent RPR to a loser-out game Friday afternoon against the Jordan Mustangs. The game started slow, but by the end of the first period, the Mustangs had an eight-point lead, 14-6.

The Renegade offense began to warm up in the second, and RPR went on an 8-0 run to tie the game halfway through the quarter. Jordan was able to fight back, and at halftime, the Mustangs still held the lead, but only by four points.

The game remained close for the first half of the third quarter, but then the RPR offense really caught a spark. The Renegades finally hit shots they were taking, led by Herzog, and by the end of the third, RPR snatched the lead, going up by five points.

In the final minutes, the Renegades extended the lead. Jordan would not go down without a fight, and brought the game within seven points with about three minutes left to go. RPR never took its foot off the gas, though, and success with bonus free throws helped propel the Renegades to a 64-53 victory.

Herzog again led the offense, putting up an impressive 28 points. He made four three-point shots and went 10-for-14 from the free throw line. Schladweiler had a 14-point game, making six of eight free throws. Gieser and senior Dylan Blodgett each contributed eight points.

Herzog and Blodgett both led the team with nine rebounds. Schladweiler had three steals, and Gieser stole the ball twice.

Thompson was pleased with his players’ performances.

“We got some shots to fall, and you could see us finally relax and play the way we are capable of playing,” he explained. “We were being more aggressive and getting to the free throw line more.”

Friday’s win set up the Renegades for a Saturday morning matchup against the Plenty Coups Warriors. RPR jumped out to a quick led, ending the first quarter with a Gieser three-pointer to go up 18-9.

The Renegades were able to maintain the lead for a while, but the Plenty Coups offense caught fire during the last three minutes of the first half. The Warriors were able to make several quick shots, and with about one minute left, the game was tied at 28. Going into halftime, RPR led the game, 30-29.

The third quarter was a shootout. The two teams battled back and forth, and with 2:30 left in the period, the scored was tied at 39. At the end of the quarter, the Warriors hit a couple quick shots to capitalize on Renegade mistakes, and Plenty Coups went into the final minutes up 49-43.

Within the first seconds, the Warriors stretched the lead to nine. Early in the fourth quarter RPR entered bonus, though, and those free throws proved to be key. Seven straight Renegade free throws made it a three-point game, and with three minutes to go, Herzog tied it with a three-pointer.

The game remained close, but with one minute left, the Renegades were down three points. With 23 seconds left in the game, Herzog was fouled on a shot. The original shot fell, as did the free throw, tying the game at 64, the final score at the end of regulation.

Overtime was also close. The Warriors made several three-point shots, but the Renegades continued to answer. Down four, Herzog again came up big, hitting a three-pointer with 26 seconds remaining to bring the Renegades within one point, 77-76.

The Warriors answered, and with seven seconds left, RPR was down 79-76 with the ball under the far basket. The inbounded pass to Herzog was stolen by Plenty Coups, and the Warriors won the game, 80-76. During the game, the lead changed 14 times.

Herzog had a huge final game, scoring 32 points, including three three-pointers. He went an impressive 17-21 on free throws for the game, and in the fourth quarter and overtime he was a perfect 11-11. As a team, the Renegades shot 70 percent from the free throw line. Gieser put up 22 points, and Severin had 13.

The Renegades had 46 rebounds as a team. Blodgett and Herzog each had 10 boards, and Gieser grabbed nine.

Thompson was happy with the game, saying, “It was a lot of fun for players and coaches, even though we came up a little short.”

He mentioned that the Renegades had opportunities in regulation and overtime to win the game, but RPR “just could not get the big play at the right time to pull out the win.”

Thompson noted the strong offensive performances of Herzog, Gieser, and Severin. He also commended Schladweiler, Blodgett, and Peterson for getting the ball inside to those top scorers.

Overall, Thompson feels the divisional tournament was a success, saying all of the players mentioned above played extremely well.

As the season has come to an end for the Renegades, Thompson said, “It has been a great ride these last four years with this group of young men.”

Herzog, Blodgett, and Schladweiler have been starters all four years, and Severin and Peterson have played extensively. Gieser, while only a junior, has started all three years.

Thompson explained that this group of players has found success – they have won the district, played in divisionals three years, advanced to the divisional championship one time, and qualified for state once.

“They have played in many big games and have some great memories to carry forward,” Thompson noted.

As for the players, Thompson had this to say: “They are all high-character players, which made coaching them a lot of fun. Thanks for the great ride and all the terrific memories, boys!”

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