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Boys Basketball

Cavaliers turn back Tiopsa Zina to extend win streak five

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Darwin Gambler, left, tries to drive to the basket as Tiospa Zina’s Nate Thompson, right, closes in on defense during Tuesday night’s game at the Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 1/17/2023

Tiospa Zina took away every easy look Aberdeen Roncalli could muster, but the Cavaliers pushed their way to a physical, 42-36 Northeast Conference victory Tuesday night in boys’ basketball action at the Roncalli Gym. It was the Cavaliers fifth straight win to move their record to 6-2 on the season.

On the heels of a physical overtime win over Warner just three days prior, Roncalli faced relentless pressure defense from the visiting Wambdi from baseline to baseline.

But the Cavaliers were prepared.

“We knew Tiospa Zina was going to bring some pressure,” said Roncalli coach Dan Gallagher. “They were going to be up in our guys’ shorts, heavy ball pressure, heavy denial. Our guys – I know we turned the ball over 19, 20 times, but the consistency in moving the ball up the floor. A lot of those turnovers were just us misplacing our pivot foot and getting called for a travel. Our guys showed a lot of growth in their ability to handle pressure and continue to attack off it.”

Still, it took a bit of an adjustment for Roncalli, which did not score its first field goal of the night until just under two and a half minutes to play in the first quarter. However, a couple of transition buckets later and the Cavaliers had tied the game by quarter’s end.

“We knew this was going to be physical,” said Roncalli guard Aiden Fisher. “We just needed to come out firing and get the early lead and play from there.”

While the Cavaliers did take a slim 16-15 lead by halftime, no advantage ever really felt safe for either team. Tiospa Zina forced Roncalli’s offense largely away from the rim, while rarely allowing for an easy look from the perimeter.

“I thought they did a great job of defending (Maddox) May underneath,” Gallagher said. “We tried to get him a couple easy looks early, but they forced some passes that took him out of position and he couldn’t go up with it. Jayden Munroe was another one they took away for the most part, but at the same time I thought Jayden stepped up. They were really pressuring our guards and Jayden accepted the challenge of bringing the ball up and getting us into our sets, and he got to the foul line for some big free throws, too.”

Aberdeen Roncalli’s Jayden Munroe, center, reaches to keep control of the ball as he moves up the court between Tiospa Zina’s Juan Rios, left and Reondre Greeley, right, during Tuesday night’s game at the Roncalli High School gym. Photo by John Davis taken 1/17/2023

Emotions flared briefly in the second half, but calmed to a simmer almost immediately, and Roncalli eased away late from the free throw line.

“I would have liked to see us be more disciplined, just as the aggression of their defense started to crank up,” Gallagher said. “I thought our guys started to push too much. But overall our guys handled it. They knew the situation, and our leaders did a great job of pulling our guys together.”

Darwin Gambler was the lone Cavalier to reach double figures in the scorebook, finishing with 10 points. He was 4-for-4 from the free-throw line in the effort.

While no other players reached double figures for Roncalli, the Cavaliers got a balanced effort from the remainder of the rotation, as six others scored four or more points.

Tate Never Misses A Shot led Tiospa Zina with 10 points. Mike Smith and Storm Sierra added seven points apiece.

Roncalli heads to Clark to take on Clark-Willow Lake on Thursday.

TIOSPA ZINA (6-4): Mike Smith 2 3-4 7, Juan Rios 2 0-0 4, Tate Never Misses A Shot 5 0-2 10, Storm Sierra 2 3-4 7, Reondre Greeley 2 1-2 5, Cee Jay Bissonette 1 0-0 3, Ashden Sierra 0 0-2 0. Totals 14 7-14 36.

ABERDEEN RONCALLI (6-2): Maddox Miller 2 3-4 8, Caden Shelton 1 2-2 4, Aiden Fisher 1 3-4 6, Jayden Munroe 1 2-4 4, Maddox May 2 0-0 4, Brody Weinmeister 1 0-0 2, Darwin Gambler 3 4-4 10, Zane Backous 2 0-1 4. Totals 13 14-19 42.

Tiospa Zina 7 15 26 36

Aberdeen Roncalli 7 16 35 42

3-point field goals – Bisonnette; Miller, Fisher. Fouled out – Rios, Sierra, Greeley. Total Fouls – Tiospa Zina 20; Aberdeen Roncalli 11.

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