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Riverland men have RCTC's number in defensive battle

Riverland held off RCTC 62-56 in men's basketball in a battle of nationally ranked Division III junior college teams

RCTC, Riverland men’s basketball
Riverland’s Lajarrion Spinks, left, and Boomer Jock, right, battle for a loose ball with RCTC’s Helder Semedo during a men’s basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, at RCTC’s Regional Sports Center in Rochester, Minnesota. Riverland held on to win the game 62-56.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

The Rochester Community and Technical College men’s basketball team may be ranked in the top 10 nationally in Division III in the NJCAA, but Yellowjackets coach Brian LaPlante knows his squad has a lot of work to do.

The Yellowjackets ran into a buzz-saw on Wednesday night at home when they dropped a 62-56 decision to Riverland Community College. The Austin-based Blue Devils are also nationally ranked as they entered the game No. 6 in Division III. RCTC is ranked seventh.

Riverland was pleased with the outcome as it improved to 14-1 overall and 2-0 in the Southern Division of the MCAC.

“We have a good team, we knew that coming in,” Riverland coach Derek Hahn said. “We just have to continue to get better at the little things and taking care of the ball is one of them. When you take a look at this game, this is what our league needs more of. This was fun to be a part of.”

LaPlante and his squad were not nearly as thrilled with the outcome, which saw RCTC drop to 12-4 overall, 2-1 in the Southern Division.

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“We’ve got to figure some things out as far as who we are and what we’re looking to do,” LaPlante said. “It’s going to come down to A, me figuring it out and B, them buying into it. It’s going to probably have to get worse before it gets better.”

Defense played a big part of Wednesday’s showdown between the two MCAC rivals. Riverland entered the game averaging 86.4 points per game and RCTC was averaging 74.6 points per outing.

“I really think it was the defensive execution and staying in there mentally,” Riverland guard Cleveland Bedgood said. “Some plays we had some breakdowns, but we just stayed strong and kept it going.”

“We just disjointed right now,” LaPlante said.

RCTC, Riverland men’s basketball
RCTC’s Devyn Frye (2) goes up for a shot defended by Riverland’s Jamari Magee (2) during a men’s basketball game on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022, at RCTC’s Regional Sports Center in Rochester, Minnesota.
Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Riverland held a narrow 33-31 lead at the half. The Blue Devils then used a big 19-6 run to open the second half for a 52-37 lead. Despite the big deficit, the Yellowjackets battled back, and to no surprise of Hahn.

“It doesn’t matter what the score is or what the time of the game is,” Hahn said. “Any time you’re playing RCTC, they will make it a game when it’s all said and done. They really do a good job defensively.”

“We did a much better job in the second half defensively,” LaPlante admitted. That defense helped the Yellowjackets create turnovers and cut the gap to 56-54 with just under two minutes left. But RCTC then had some costly turnovers and Riverland closed with a 6-2 run.

“We turned the ball over way too much,” LaPlante said. “Just didn’t execute at all on offense.

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“That’s a good outfit,” he added of Riverland. “That has a lot to do with it.”

RCTC and Riverland have now played six straight close games with each contest being decided by six or fewer points.

“We were both just going at it,” Bedgood said. “It’s always a fight, but it’s a good game and I like the competition.”

Bedgood scored 12 points for the Blue Devils while Dominik Bangu of Mankato led the way with 14. Riverland had 19 turnovers and the Yellowjackets finished with 18.

Devyn Frye paced RCTC with 16 points while Lourdes grad Peyton Dunham had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Riverland 62, RCTC 56
Riverland (62)

Cleveland Bedgood 14 P, 6 R, 3 3-PT; Malik Cooper 5 P, 1 3-PT; Joe Burgos 5 P, 1 3-PT; Lajarrion Spinks 9 P, 4 R, 1 3-PT; Dominik Bangu 14 P, 1 3-PT; Jamari Magee 4 P, 4 R; Junior Stone 2 P; Boomer Jock 8 P, 8 R; Ethan Clavero 3 P, 1 3-PT.

RCTC (56)

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Keivonte Watts 9 P, 4 S; Devyn Frye 16 P, 4 S, 3 3-PT, Quest McCrimon 8 P, 4 A, 2 3-PT; Quentin Williams 4 P, 5 R; Helder Semedo 2 R, 2 A; Peyton Dunham 13 P, 8 R; Quincy Burland 2 P, 5 R; Andre Crockett 2 P; Nick Pepin 2 P.

Halftime: RIV 33, RCTC 31.

Free throws: RIV 8-11, RCTC 5-7. Field goals: RIV 23-55, RCTC 23-60.

Three-point goals: RIV 8-23, RCTC 5-13. Rebounds: RIV 30, RCTC 29. Turnovers: RIV 19, RCTC 18.

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