CUBA CITY – If the season opener in any indication, the battle for the SWAL boys’ basketball crown is going to be a wild affair this season.
Cuba City got a 22-point second-half performance from sophomore guard Blake Robson to fight off the visiting Darlington Redbirds, 55-48, in their SWAL opener at CCHS on Thursday, Dec. 3.
Robson sank four 3-pointers in the first 11 minutes of the second half to lead the Cubans out to a 38-32 lead, and then he went 10-of-12 from the foul line over the final six minutes of play to help seal the victory for head coach Jerry Petitgoue’s squad.
“It’s certainly disappointing because we didn’t get off to the start we wanted in conference,” said Darlington head coach Michael Hopkins. “But, it’s only the second game of the year and our first conference game, so we have plenty to play for yet.”
The Redbirds (1-1 overall, 0-1 SWAL) held an 11-9 lead midway through the first half despite suffering through some early foul troubles. The Cubans (2-0, 1-0) used an 8-0 scoring run to overtake the ‘Birds and were still ahead 19-15 going into the locker room at halftime.
Darlington grabbed a 24-23 lead just minutes into the second half on back-to-back 3-pointers by juniors Ryan Glendenning and Chad Golackson, but Robson kicked off his stunning second-half performance by nailing a pair of treys of his own to put the Cubans on top 29-26 with 12:07 to play.
After Golackson briefly gave the ‘Birds back the lead at 32-31, Robson answered quickly by burying another 3-pointer to start off an 11-0 run that put the Cubans ahead to stay, and then held off the Redbirds from the foul line over the final six minutes of play.
The Cubans went 13-of-20 from the free throw stripe in the final five minutes, 57 seconds– with Robson connecting on 10-of-12 of his attempts– to keep the ‘Birds at bay.
“I’m not going to make any excuses. We were out of synch on offense. They were switching on us and we didn’t react to that the way we should. Defensively, even in our zone, we didn’t cut off their penetration and, consequently, we’re not in good position and we fouled them,” Hopkins explained. “There are a lot of things we need to improve on early in the season.”
Golackson scored 14 of his team-high 16 points– including all four of his 3s– in the second half to keep the Redbirds in the game.
Glendenning added 13 points and junior Trevor Johnson chipped in with eight points, who were outscored 19-7 at the foul line for the game.
“I knew (physical play) was going to be a factor. Every game we play with Cuba City is physical like that,” stated Hopkins.
Robson finished with a game-high 22 points– all of which he scored in the second half– to lead the Cubans. Senior Brady Vaassen tallied a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, while senior Ben Burkholder contributed nine points and senior Chris Moor added eight.
Darlington heads to Fennimore for a SWAL game on Friday, Dec. 11, and to Lancaster for a non-conference game on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Both games are set to start at 7:30 p.m.
Darlington… 15 33 – 48
Cuba City…. 19 36 – 55
Darlington – Will Schwartz 5, Brayden McDonald 2, Ryan Glendenning 13, Trevor Johnson 8, Josh Soper 4, Chad Golackson 16. Totals – 17 7-8 48.
Cuba City – Blake Robson 22, Justin Droessler 4, Brady Vaassen 12, Ben Burkholder 9, Chris Moor 8. Totals – 15 19-26 55.
3-point goals– D 7 (Schwartz, Glendenning 2, Golackson 4), CC 6 (Robson 4, Burkholder, Moor). Total fouls– D 22, D 12. Fouled out– D: Schwartz.