Devils in the win column
Second-half rally nets victory over Crossroads
By Scott A. Kolb
Outside shooting led the Riverland men’s basketball team to its first win of the season on Saturday afternoon with an 87-66 triumph over Crossroads College.
The Blue Devils trailed by nine at halftime in their home game against the Rochester-based Crossroads Knights. Although the final score was a bit lopsided, the Knights had been undefeated coming into this non-conference game.
Rallying in the second half, the Blue Devils made a total of 10 three-pointers to get their initial win. The home team scored 52 points in the second half.
Jason Simmons, a sophomore forward for Riverland, had his best game of the season with a team-high 29 points. He played NAIA last year in Oklahoma and his experienced showed in leading the team to victory. Simmons highlighted a long-ball barrage from the Blue Devils as he netted six treys on the day.
"He’s one of those guys that can play at a different level," Riverland coach Dan Swift said of Simmons. "Jason only had five points in the first half, then he really stepped up for us in the second half. I have to tip my hat to Crossroads for about 30 minutes they did everything against us, and we had to climb out of the hole."
Crossroads shot 71-percent from beyond the three-point arc in the first half and built a 44-35 lead at halftime. This included a half-court shot as time expired from Patrick Porras, who finished with a game-high 32 points.
"Everything they put up in the first half was going in," Swift said. "Our defensive pressure wasn’t that great and they made shots. Then, they had a buzzer-beater to end the first half.
"They packed in a zone against us and we didn’t get real good looks. We didn’t play very well offensively in the first half, but our shooters found their touch in the second half."
Led by the outside shooting of Simmons, the Blue Devils put on a rally for the home fans. Simmons was
6-for-10 from beyond the arc in the second half.
Four guys reached double figures in the win for the Blue Devils. AJ Kortz had 18, Chris Moragne added 15, and Jesse Hogin chipped in 11 points as the offensive balance erased the goose egg from the home team’s overall record.
"Jason is one of our bigger guys and that’s why we have him at forward, but he can also go outside," Swift said. "He added 11 rebounds and really shined for us in the second half. Jesse, Chris, and AJ all hit for around their averages, and they gave us some consistency on the offensive end."
In addition to a solid offensive outing, the Blue Devils also played good defense on the day to get into the win column. The Knights (3-1) had been averaging 74 points per game prior to suffering their initial defeat of the season.
"We had a few guys out of the line-up, so when we put it together and get everybody on the same page, then we’ll be a pretty good team," Swift concluded. "It sure was nice to get that first win of the season."
Riverland (1-5) plays the late game of a doubleheader on Wednesday night against Western Wisconsin Technical Institute in La Crosse.