TYLER - With an 80-69 win over Russell-Tyler-Ruthton in the Camden Conference championship Friday night in Tyler, the Class A fourth-ranked Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks have fulfilled the first of their team goals this season.
Riding a 13-game winning streak into the contest, sophomore Joey Lee, who scored a game-high 24 points and also contributed six assists and two steals, said the Blackjacks (22-2) are staying focused on one game at a time.
"It feels really good to win, but we definitely have a long ways to go if we're going to make it as far as we want to," Lee said. "The conference championship was the first goal, now we're moving on to sub-section championship. That's the next goal. We'll just take it one goal at a time."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Dawson-Boyd’s Joey Lee (10) drives to the hoop as Russell-Tyler-Ruthton’s Dylan Kor, left, goes for the block and teammate Brett Peterson watches on during Friday’s Camden Conference championship game in Tyler. Lee scored a game-high 24 points to push the fourth-ranked Blackjacks to an 80-69 victory.
In front of a packed house, both Camden representatives - RTR (South) 11-2 Camden record and D-B (North) 14-1 Camden record - put forth a great effort, giving the fans a preview of what the upcoming playoffs might be like. The Blackjacks stepped up their defensive effort, gradually edging away from the scrappy Knights (17-8) halfway through the second half.
"It was kind of what you expected, a tight ball game for the most part," D-B head coach Cory Larson said. "We extended that lead, from two, three points, slowly got it to five-six and then finally got it to the 10-point mark. I really thought it would stay tight, and really it was most of the way."
Neither team led by more than six in the first half, with D-B taking a 30-29 halftime lead into the locker room. Both teams shot the lights out in the opening minutes of the second half.
Nathaniel Huot 8 2-3 22, Zach Stelter 1 1-3 3, Joey Lee 9 6-11 24, Evan Robertson 4 0-0 8, Michael Lee 2 0-0 4, Jack Hansen 7 2-2 19, Totals 31 11-19 80. Three-pointers 7 (Huot 4, Hansen 3) Rebounds 31 (Stelter 11, Robertson 10) Assists 15 (J. Lee 6) Steals 6 (J. Lee 2, Stelter 2) Blocks 2 (Robertson, M. Lee) Turnovers 7 Total Fouls 13.
Phil Madsen 3 3-3 10, Brett Peterson 7 4-4 19, Travis King 1 6-6 8, Nathan Condelli 1 0-0 2, Newt Dunblazier 2 0-0 4, Dylan Kor 5 0-0 10, Levi DeRuyter 2 0-2 4, Brett Vercruysse 5 2-2 12, Totals 26 15-17 69. Three-pointers 2 (Madsen, Peterson) Rebounds 28 (DeRuyter 5, Peterson 5) Assists 12 (Peterson 4) Steals 4 (Peterson 3) Blocks 2 (Dunblazier, Kor) Turnovers 10 Total Fouls 19.
Halftime Score: Dawson-Boyd 30, RTR 29.
Sophomore Brett Vercruysse scored back-to-back baskets to give RTR a 33-32 lead with seventeen minutes remaining. After Evan Robertson contributed a rebound putback for D-B, Vercruysse hit a 10-foot jumper.
"My teammates hit me when I was open," said Vercruysse, who, with 12 points, was one of four RTR players to hit double digits. "We felt pretty good about the game. We got back on defense, that's for sure. We finished most of our layups, which was good. And, we did good from the free-throw line."
The lead continued to exchange hands until the 13:55 mark, when Lee's layup gave the Blackjacks a 42-41 advantage. Despite pulling out all the stops, the Knights were not able to take the lead again.
"I thought in the second half, we started to get after it a little more defensively," Larson said. "Early, they executed really well. There was a time out there, and both teams had scored about six out of their first seven possessions. I really thought we did a better job of getting to loose balls in the second half. We didn't give them as many second-chance opportunities."
Lee scored 18 of his 24 points in the second half, including back-to-back baskets to give D-B a 52-45 edge with just under 10 minutes remaining.
"We did execute very well," Larson said. "We got the ball deep into the defense and finished those shots. I thought that was a big difference from the first half to the second half."
Nathaniel Huot poured in 22 points for the Blackjacks, while Jack Hansen added 19. Zach Stelter grabbed 11 boards, while Evan Robertson contributed eight points and 10 rebounds. D-B shot 53 percent from the field, and was 7 of 13 from behind the arc, also for 53 percent.
Brett Peterson led the Knights, scoring 19 points, hauling down five rebounds, dishing out four assists and swiping three steals. Phil Madsen and Dylan Kor added 10 points apiece.
"The kids played hard," Kern said. "I liked the effort we got from our kids, 1-9 in our rotation. We just didn't make enough shots. It comes right down to that. They shot the lights out, particularly in the second half. We matched them for awhile, but just kind of ran out of gas a little bit."
Both teams have one last contest to fine-tune their games before playoffs. D-B will travel to play Minneota on Monday, while RTR is on the road against Lincoln HI on Tuesday.