2/21/2020 11:40:00 AM Maroons knock off Marshall, 70-58
Robinson’s Brayden Childress (23) gets to the rim for two of his game-high 30 points Tuesday night, as the senior along with classmate Kade Lassen, who had 24 points, led the way on Senior Night in the Maroons’ 70-58 victory over Marshall. (Josh Brown photo)
Senior Night is a night for celebration and Robinson High School's boys' basketball team celebrated its seniors with their biggest win of the season Tuesday night.
The Maroons saved their best for last, posting a 70-58 win over state-ranked Marshall in a Little Illini Conference contest in their final home game of the season.
"This was a great, great win for us," RHS head coach Mack Thompson said. "For the boys to celebrate Senior Night by beating the No. 1 Regional seed and a state-ranked team, I couldn't be happier for them."
Robinson led virtually throughout and as per usual, were led by their two senior leaders - Brayden Childress and Kade Lassen - who combined for 54 points and nearly outscored the Marshall team by themselves.
"They are very competitive kids that hate to lose," Thompson said. "They always find a way to help us stay in games, but tonight, they found a way to get us over the hump."
The Maroons were a bit slow starting out of the gates, as they did not score for nearly three and a half minutes into the game, but when Wesley Jackson hit a floater in the lane for the first basket of the game at the 4:40 mark, they only trailed 3-2.
That was the start of a 13-2 run by the Maroons, as Childress scored the next nine RHS points before a steal and layup by Jackson finished the run to make the score 13-5. Marshall would hit a three-pointer in the closing seconds to make the score 13-8 after the first quarter, but Robinson started the second period on a 13-3 run - with 11 of those points coming from Lassen, the last of which came on a step-back three-pointer - to extend the RHS lead to 26-11 with 4:22 left in the half.
Robinson would lead by as many as 17 in the period, as they outscored Marshall 22-11 and took a 35-19 advantage into the locker room at halftime.
As all good teams do, Marshall - who came into the game with a 22-4 record - would make a run, but the Maroons were able to battle through it. Marshall would end up outscoring Robinson 26-19 in the third quarter to make the score 52-45 heading into the final period.
Marshall would then score the first three points of the fourth quarter to get within 52-48, but Lassen would answer with a three-pointer to put RHS back up seven. After a basket by Marshall, Childress converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 58-50 lead with 5:12 remaining.
Two Marshall free throws made the score 58-52, but Childress followed with a basket and Jeffrey Goble scored on a putback to give the Maroons a 62-52 lead with 3:01 to play.
Consecutive baskets by Marshall closed the gap to 62-56, but the Maroons answered again with Lassen and Childress each scoring inside to push the margin back to 10, 66-56, with less than a minute left.
After the teams traded free throws to keep the margin at 10, Lassen put the finishing touches on the win by breaking free on the inbounds play and tracking down the baseball pass from Ethan Shidler to score the final basket of the game.
"That first quarter was huge for us, but more importantly, we needed to repeat that in the second quarter, because we didn't do that Saturday (in a 64-54 loss to Centralia)," Thompson said. "We came out with the same aggressiveness and intensity and outscored them 22-11. We knew they were too good of a team to not make a run, so we needed to make sure we continued to have good possessions on offense. We got a little sloppy at times, but we weathered the storm and finished when we needed to."
Thompson noted he was proud of his team's poise during Marshall's comeback attempt.
"When they got it close, we could have been like 'here we go again' but instead it was 'let's go,'" Thompson said. "For our guys to weather the storm and to see a very aggressive zone and handle their pressure, was huge for us."
While their senior leaders carried the load offensively, it was a team effort on the defensive end, as they forced Marshall to work for everything they got and it resulted in a poor shooting night for the Lions.
Marshall made 18-47 field goal attempts (38 percent), including 14-29 from two-point range (48 percent) and just 4-18 from three-point range (22 percent). Meanwhile, Robinson hit 22-44 shots from the floor (50 percent), which included a 19-36 performance from inside the arc (53 percent) and 3-8 from long distance (38 percent). The Maroons also held an advantage at the free throw line, making 23-30 attempts (77 percent), while the Lions hit 18-26 foul shots (69 percent).
"The focus was there from everybody tonight," Thompson said. "The boys played with a lot of energy and a lot of heart. To hold Marshall to 19 first-half points is impressive. We knew they would make a run, but we weathered it."
Childress led RHS with 30 points, nine rebounds, two blocked shots and one steal, while Lassen totaled 24 points, four rebounds, two steals and two assists.
"Not only have they been great leaders on the floor, but also in practice pumping up the other guys and being positive even when things weren't going the greatest," Thompson said. "It is very refreshing to not have to be the one that lights the fire all the time. I have always felt player-led teams are better than coach-led teams and we are definitely a player-led team."
Jackson posted six points, three rebounds, two steals and one assist, Shidler collected four points, six rebounds, three assists and one steal, Goble contributed four points, six rebounds and two assists and Nick Weber added two points and one blocked shot off the bench.
"Goble had some big rebounds and putbacks for us and the other guys did some good things," Thompson said. "Tonight was what Robinson basketball looks like when it's clicking on all cylinders."
In addition to Lassen and Childress, it was also the last home game for fellow seniors Sawyer Hoalt and Dale Beatty, who both saw action, but did not score.
"Sawyer has hung tough after not getting to play a lot early, made the most of his opportunities and played really good all year," Thompson said. "Dale is a great kid. He just comes in and works every day and doesn't say a word."
Lance Rees led Marshall with 15 points, nine rebounds and one assist, while Daniel Tingley totaled 10 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocked shots and Ethan Keown posted 10 points, two steals and one rebound.
The win also assured Robinson a tie for second-place in the LIC, with Marshall, although they were hoping to get a share of the conference title, but needed Newton to beat Casey-Westfield. When that didn't happen, the Maroons had to settle for a tie for second.
"We tried to control our own destiny and then were hoping to get some help from Newton, but it didn't happen," Thompson said. "But, we'll still take the win and we are very happy with it."
Robinson also scored a 51-49 win in the junior varsity game, as Rylan King banked in a three-pointer with less than two seconds remaining to give the Maroons the victory.
Weber led RHS with 19 points, while King and Cole Johnson were also in double figures with 11 and 10 points, respectively.
"The JV game gave us a little momentum as well," Thompson said. "Those kids played hard and got a nice win against a good Marshall team. Then we just rolled it right into the varsity game. The crowd was awesome tonight, the student section was awesome and the little kids that sit behind our bench were awesome. It was a great night all the way around."