RANDOLPH – Matt Bredesen expressed a sentiment that’s been a bit more common in regards to Randolph’s boys basketball team this season.
“We had them on the ropes,” Bredesen said of his Montello Hilltoppers.
Getting the Rockets to the canvas is another matter. The guests cut the lead to one with just over six minutes to play before the Rockets closed the game on an 18-4 run for a 56-41 Trailways win.
Randolph (17-1, 12-0 Central), ranked first in the Division 5 Associated Press poll, clinched its 12th straight league title and ran its conference winning streak to 173 games. The Hilltoppers fell to 14-4 and 9-3 in the North as Oshkosh Lourdes clinched at least a share of the North crown.
“At the end, we didn’t make the plays we needed to,” Bredesen said. “They made great plays. They’ve been there.”
Randolph went to the line 20 times in the fourth quarter and converted 14 tries. The Rockets missed all seven attempts from the arc and turned it over a dozen times.
“We had so many empty possessions,” Randolph coach Bob Haffele said. “We got bad shots and we turned the ball over. We played very poorly on offense.”
As a result, the Rockets couldn’t pull away despite building two different double-digit leads in the first half. Randolph had a 38-27 edge when Jon Vana knocked down a bank shot late in the third quarter.
Connor Klapper hit for five points to start the final stanza and when Robert Kendall knocked down a 3 from the parking lot, Montello was within a point. Randolph responded by repeatedly attacking the rim and getting to the line.
Duke Vander Galien hit all eight of his free throws, including six in the fourth quarter, to finish with 12 points and four assists.
Jay Peters led the Rockets with 15 points to go with four rebounds and three steals.
Kyle Roberts and Aaron Retzlaff each pulled down 10 rebounds as the Rockets grabbed a 34-21 rebounding advantage. Retzlaff added four steals while Roberts and A.J. Alexander each chipped in with eight points.
“It will do us some good to get pushed like that,” Haffele said. “We responded pretty well.”
Markesan visits Randolph Friday.
Kendall scored a game-high 17 points for Montello.
Randolph 56, Montello 41
Montello 10 10 9 12 – 41
Randolph 18 12 8 18 – 56
MONTELLO (41) – Connor Klapper 7, Carter Daniels 9, Robert Kendall 17, Garrett Stoegbauer 4, John Vana 4. Totals: 15 5-8 41.
RANDOLPH (56) – Duke VanderGalien 12, Jay Peters 15, Aaron Retzlaff 6, A.J. Alexander 8, Kyle Roberts 8, Dylan Greeno 3, Allan Pocernich 4. Totals: 19 18-29 56.
3-point goals – Montello 6 (Connor Klapper 1, Carter Daniels 3, Robert Kendall 2), Randolph 0. Total fouls – Montello 20, Randolph 15. Fouled out – Alex Gajdosik (M), Garrett Stoegbauer. JV – R won.