By Todd Fertig

The Rossville boys clamped down on visiting Riley County Monday night, advancing to the semifinals in the Class 3A Riley County sub-state with a defensive effort, 50-37.

CameronMiller 1Sophomore Cameron Miller led Rossville with 16 points in Monday's 50-37 Class 3A sub-state win over Riley County. [File photo/TSN]

Rossville, which hadn’t won more than nine games in nearly a decade, improved to 15-6 and moved on to a matchup with Nemaha Central at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night at Riley County.

“The boys are pumped up about it. And why not? We’re doing things in the program that haven’t been done in God knows how long,” said Rossville coach Brandon McDonnell. “As muddy and dirty and unsure as the game was, generally not the way we play, we didn’t quit playing. We still played together.”

Rossville jumped on the visiting Falcons early to establish a 15-6 lead in the opening period. They continued to add on with sophomore Cameron Miller scoring 11 first-half points. The Bulldawgs led 28-17 at the intermission.

The Falcons didn’t quit. They clawed their way back to a five-point deficit with 3:28 remaining. But the Bulldawg defense locked in at that point, not allowing Riley County another point.

"At this point in the season, records don’t count. They only matter for seeding,” McDonnell said. “I told the boys ‘We can’t sleep on Riley County. They’re going to fight back.’ So, we regrouped and used our brains and finished the game.”

Rossville held Riley County to just 13-47 shooting. No Falcon player reached double figures in scoring.

“Defensively, we have to hang our hat on that. If we don’t, we aren’t going to get more offensive possessions, and that’s what we want,” McDonnell said, pointing to the size of 6-foot-4 Miller, 6-foot-4 Mason Jones and 6-foot-3 Kameron Badura in the frontcourt.

“We’re long. If we play long, stay extended, get deflections, get on the floor for 50-50 balls, we produce.”

Miller finished with 16 points, including a breakaway dunk off a steal to punctuate the defensive effort that decided the game.

“It feels great to get this win,” Miller said. “We all have a great bond with each other. I feel like if we keep that bond and keep playing together, we can go a long ways. We’re having a lot of fun, playing for each other.”

Miller was joined in double figures in the low-scoring affair by fellow sophomore Jack Donovan, who netted 13.

Nemaha Central earned a semifinal berth by edging Marysville in their own defensive struggle, 37-31. McDonnell said the Bulldawgs will approach Thursday’s game as another step in the journey.

“Tonight’s win is a huge step toward our goal. Our next goal is to try to win sub-state,” McDonnell said. “That’s the next thing on that list. And whoever comes in that path, we’re going to play as hard as we can. The way we’ve been practicing, the way we’ve been playing, we should be prepared for whatever lies in front of us.”

Miller said he and his teammates can sense the interest the Rossville community is taking in this year’s basketball team.

“It helps when the crowd is really into it. I can hear them. The student section has been pretty awesome,” Miller said. “There’s a lot of people telling us what a great job we’re doing.”


Riley County   6 11 10 10 -- 50

Rossville         15 13 9 13 -- 37

Riley County (7-13) – Harmison 4-7 0-0 8, Trent Webber 2-8 1-5 5, Lambert 2-10 4-5 9, J. Woodard 0-4 0-0 0, Trey Webber 2-9 0-0 6, Sharp 0-1 1-2 1,  Hopper 2-7 1-2 6, Carson 0-0 0-0 0, B. Woodard 1-1 0-1 2. Totals: 13-47 7-15 37.

Rossville (15-6) – McDonnell 2-4 0-0 5, Badura 1-5 3-4 6, Donovan 2-7 8-8 13, Miller 6-13 3-4 16, Horak 1-7 1-2 4, Jackson 0-0 0-0 0, Bush 0-1 2-2 2, Jones 1-2 2-2 4. Totals: 13-39 19-22 50.

3-point goals – Riley County 4 (Trey Webber 2, Lambert 1, Hopper 1), Rossville 5 (McDonnell 1, Badura 1, Donovan 1, Miller 1, Horak 1). Total fouls – Riley County 21, Rossville 15. Fouled out – Harmison, Trey Webber. Technical fouls – None. 

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