TRACY - Familiar Camden Conference rivals, the Tracy-Milroy-Balaton and Russell-Tyler-Ruthton boys basketball teams know what to expect from each other whenever they meet. So when the Panthers went into the locker room with a 34-22 lead over the Knights after dominating the first half of Friday's game, they knew a rally was coming.
After his team shot just 23 percent in the first half, senior point guard Taylor Newton and the Knights came back from what grew into an 18-point deficit early in the second half and cut the lead to five points on four different occasions in the final eight minutes.
Newton scored 19 of his game-high 31 points in the second half to will his team back into the game, but TMB senior guard Dominic Dolan wouldn't let Newton and the Knights take away a key early-season conference win. Dolan matched Newton almost point for point in the half, scoring 17 of his 26 points in the half to help the Panthers withstand RTR's comeback and pull away for a 69-60 victory.
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton defeats Russell-Tyler-Ruthton on Dec. 18 in Tracy
"Basketball is a game of runs and we knew they'd have a run," TMB head coach Rick Haberman said. "We knew they weren't going to lay down. They kept battling back.
"I thought RTR's run was really impressive, but I give our guys a lot of credit because we stayed the course and stayed tough and were able to finally stop their rally and hold on for the win."
The win keeps the Panthers unbeaten this season (3-0 overall, 3-0 Camden), while the Knights (2-2, 1-1 Camden) drop their first game since losing to second-ranked Ellsworth in their season opener.
Photo by Matt Dahlseid
Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s Shane Erickson takes a shot over Russell-Tyler-Ruthton’s Dylan Kor in the first half of Friday’s Camden Conference game in Tracy. Erickson scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to help the Panthers capture a 69-60 victory. For more photos, go to cu.marshallindependent.com.
With both teams looking to contend for the Camden-South title, the Knights and Panthers realize every conference game has meaning. At the start of Friday's game, it was TMB that showed more of a sense of urgency from the opening tip.
The Panthers forced the Knights into several turnovers in the first half with their full-court press and went on a 15-0 run to grab a 23-8 lead midway through the half. TMB post player Shane Erickson was key to the Panthers success early on, scoring down low and grabbing rebounds on both ends of the court. He scored 12 points in the first half and finished with 18 points and 10 boards in the game.
While Erickson, Dolan and the rest of the Panthers were flying all over the court, the Knights seemed sluggish and, despite a late run in the half, went into the locker room down 12.
|Travis King 1 2-2 4, Dylan Kor 3 0-0 6, Darren Feste 6 1-5 13, Taylor Newton 13 8-11 31, Philip Madsen 1 0-0 2, Brett Peterson 1 0-0 2, Shay Wabeke 1 0-0 2 Totals 26 11-18 60. Three-pointers 3 (Madsen 3) Rebounds 29 (Feste 8, King 7) Assists 4 (Newton 2) Steals 3 (Newton 2) Blocks 2 Turnovers 17 Total Fouls 18.|
|Shane Erickson 7 4-6 18, Jeremy Hoflock 1 0-1 2, Dominic Dolan 14 0-1 26, Joe Hook 6 4-5 15, James Fultz 0 2-4 2, Taylor Hoffbeck 1 0-0 2, Eric Carter 1 2-4 4 Totals 30 12-21 69. Three-pointers 3 (Dolan 2) Rebounds 42 (Erickson 18, Hoflock 9, Hook 7, Dolan 6) Assists 5 (Hoffbeck 2) Steals 9 (Dolan 4) Blocks 0 Turnovers 20 Total Fouls 20.|
|Halftime Score: TMB 34, RTR 22.|
"We just couldn't match their intensity," said Newton, who combined with Darren Feste to score 20 of RTR's 22 points in the first half. "Their intensity was much higher than ours and they took it to us right away. We weren't ready for it and it showed out there."
Dolan and guard Joe Hook, who scored 15 points for the Panthers, continued to push the pace early in the second half and built a 48-30 lead after an up-and-under in the lane from Dolan.
Not ready to give in, the Knights made a furious comeback, going on a 15-2 run to cut the lead to five with 7:48 remaining after a layup by Feste, who had 13 points for RTR.
From there, Newton kept getting to the basket and scoring or hitting jumpers from the outside to try to put pressure on the Panthers.
RTR head coach Ted Kern said Newton's aggressiveness was part of why the Knights struggled in the first half, but was also a big reason for the team's comeback down the stretch.
"He sometimes tries to do a little too much," Kern said. "He needs to trust his teammates a little bit more at times, but down the stretch he definitely fueled that run that brought us to within five."
With every basket Newton made, it seemed like Dolan had an answer. The 5-foot-9 guard played the passing lanes well all night, coming up with four steals, to create easy shots for himself or his teammates in transition. He was also able to hit shots from outside when the Panthers needed a big shot.
Dolan, who has played against Newton for years, said he enjoyed being part of the second-half back-and-forth between two of the conference's top two guards.
"I noticed it out there that it was almost every other basket we were going back and forth out there," Dolan said. "I kind of had a little smile on my face because it was kind of fun.
"Taylor's a very good player. He can drive, he shoots well outside and you never know if he's going to pass it or shoot a layup. He's got the all-around game going for him."
Newton nailed one of his three three-pointers with 1:10 left in the game to cut the lead back to five, but with RTR needing to foul to hope for a shot to win, Hook sank four clutch free throws to put the game away.
RTR will try to rebound from their first conference loss when the Knights travel to Ivanhoe Tuesday to play Lincoln HI. TMB and RTR could be in for another meeting soon, as both play in a tournament at Red Rock Central Dec. 28-29.