Offensively, the Redmond Mustangs’ boys basketball team did not play the first three quarters of Tuesday night’s home 4A Kingco matchup against the Roosevelt Roughriders like a team riding a six-game winning streak.
But when the whistle sounded to begin the fourth quarter, a revived Mustang team stepped onto the court at Reiger gymnasium, setting up a wild and frantic finish.
In the end, Redmond could not bounce back from their sluggish start and the Roughriders converted clutch free throws down the stretch to seal a 54-51 win.
The Roughriders made their last 10 attempts from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter to seal the win. Roosevelt was 18 of 21 from the line for the game and the Mustangs made just 7 of their 18 free throw attempts.
“We played a very lackadaisical first half, and that’s on us,” said Redmond head coach Jeff Larson. “You have to play at a very high level every game in this league. If you rest, you’re going to get beat.”
After trailing by five at the half, senior forward Max Wisman came up with a quick steal and layin early in the third period to knot the score at 23, but Roosevelt ended the quarter on an 11-3 run to take an eight-point lead going into the fourth quarter.
Playing with a renewed intensity, the Mustangs slashed into Roosevelt’s lead with an aggressive full-court press, which rattled the young Roughriders.
“They threw a press on us and the kids kind of crapped themselves a little bit,” admitted fifth-year Roosevelt head coach Bart Brandenburg. “I can’t tell you how many times we’ve been in this type of game, almost every single one of our wins has been just like this.”
The Mustangs also became much more aggressive at the offensive end. Justin Alexander, who had a team-high 19 points, pulled off an acrobatic underhanded layin with 4 minutes, 15 seconds left that cut the Roughriders’ lead 40-37 and drew an ovation from the Redmond crowd. Minutes later, the 6-foot-5 senior drained a pair of free throws to tie the game at 48-48 with 1:34 remaining.
The Roughriders responded with four straight free throws to take a 52-48 lead with under 30 seconds left in the game.
Redmond junior Phil Leland, who has been deadly from long range all season, answered for the Mustangs, hitting a must-make 3-pointer from the corner to cut the lead to one, 52-51, with 10.9 ticks left on the clock.
After two free throws by Roosevelt junior Kai Hoyt, the Mustangs had their backs to the wall, trailing 54-51 with 9.1 seconds left.
Redmond put the ball in the hands of Leland once again, whose long three-pointer was just off the mark. Roosevelt grabbed the rebound as time expired.
“We thought about calling time out at mid-court, but we didn’t want to have five seconds left and let them reset their defense,” said Larson on the final play of the game. “We were hoping for a closer shot, it was kind of rushed. We had the ball in the person’s hands we wanted to… we were just a little early on it.”
REDMOND GOT RIVERED
Roosevelt senior River Voorhees dominated the Roughriders’ offensive effort, pouring in a game-high 21 on 9-of-12 shooting.
“When he has confidence, he’s one of the better players in the league,” said Brandenburg of his star point guard. “He’s hard to stay in front of, super-athletic. He can shoot it, take it to the basket… he’s a very, very good player.”
For Redmond, Alexander’s 19 was a season high, followed by Chris Harrington, the team’s leading scorer at 12.6 points per game, with 10.
The loss dropped Redmond to 6-3 in league play and 8-5 overall while snapping its six-game win streak, but Larson said the tough loss will “absolutely not” affect his team’s morale going forward.
“We’re not looking ahead, but we say it every week — we have to keep betting better.”