LANCASTER – For 13 of the past 16 years, Lancaster and River Ridge have kicked off the boys basketball season together, making it tradition to play the first game of the season against one another.
The two programs began the 2017-18 boys basketball season this past Monday night at Lancaster High School, with the Flying Arrows defeating the Timberwolves, 84-49.
With the win, Lancaster took an 11-5 lead in the series, which dates back to the 2002-03 season, which River Ridge won.
It should be noted that the three times during the 16-season series that Lancaster and River Ridge did not play each other in the season opener, was when Lancaster had made runs to the WIAA state football championships, forcing their game against River Ridge to be rescheduled to a later date.
This past Monday night’s season opener pitted a relatively experienced River Ridge squad with four returning starters from a year ago, up against a Lancaster team which lost three starters from a year ago.
The key for first-year Lancaster coach Brian Knapp was his team’s athleticism on defense, which created 18 River Ridge turnovers and led to a number of transition points.
“Our key to being successful all year is going to be if we can get out and run and get those transition points,” Knapp said. “They’re a pretty quick group of kids, and our practices have been a lot of full-court drills, getting up the floor as quick as we can, finishing at the rim, and that kind of stuff.”
“That’s our game-plan and our philosophy that we’re going to keep going with,” Knapp added.
After five minutes of play, the Flying Arrows held a slim lead of 9-4, but just five minutes later were up, 20-8.
With four and a half minutes to play in the first half, Lancaster had extended their lead to 30-13 and took a 39-21 lead into the locker room at the half.
The Flying Arrows started the second half off with a 10-5 run during the first six minutes, and extended their lead to 62-34 with eight minutes to play.
River Ridge seemingly had no answer for Lancaster’s balanced offensive attack, which saw four different players score in double figures.
Leading the way was senior center Nathan Timmerman, who finished with 19 points on 9-of-13 from the field.
Sophomore sharp shooter Dawson Bowen chipped in 17 points with three 3-pointers, while senior Austin Mumm added 16 points to go along with a team-high seven assists and three steals.
Fellow senior Jordan Reuter added 12 points, while also pulling down 13 boards, dishing out seven assists and coming up with two steals.
Reuter was particularly effective at the high post, where he made life easier for the Arrows against River Ridge’s zone defense.
“When Jordan gets the ball at the high post, he’s very tough because he’s a very good passer out of there,” said coach Knapp. “He’s a very solid rebounder as well.”
From the field, Lancaster made 37-of-64 (58%) shot attempts, including 3-of-13 (23%) from 3-point range. They were 7-of-10 (70%) from the charity stripe, committed 15 turnovers and came away with 11 steals.
On the glass, Lancaster had 25 defensive rebounds to River Ridge’s eight offensive boards, while River Ridge had 11 defensive boards to Lancaster’s 13 on offense.
Leading the Timberwolves with 22 points, four boards and three steals was sophomore guard Cole Crubel.
Senior center Gavin Steiber chipped in 12 points and four boards, while fellow senior Ty Bloom had seven points and a team-high three assists.
The Timberwolves made 18-of-48 (37.5%) shot attempts, including 4-of-20 (20%) from 3-point range. They were 9-of-19 (47%) from the free throw line, committed 18 total turnovers and came away with nine steals.
Coach Knapp was pleased with the intensity with which his team played in the season opener, and believes this group has something to prove, especially following an early exit in the football season.
“Even though the kids didn’t want the football season to end, I think it has transitioned for basketball purposes, just because they were in shape, and I think with them ending the football season early, it gave them that hunger to prove a little something in basketball.”
The Flying Arrows begin play in the Southwest Wisconsin Conference against host River Valley this Friday night, then will host Boscobel on Saturday, beginning at 2:30.
River Ridge hosts Fennimore this Thursday night, then opens play in the Six Rivers West with a road game at Shullsburg next Friday night.
Lancaster 84, River Ridge 49
(from Monday, Nov. 27)
River Ridge 21 28 - 49
Lancaster 39 45 - 84
River Ridge - Ty Bloom 7, Brett Moravits 2, Blake Crubel 3, Ryan Redman 1, Cole Crubel 22, Isaac White 2, Gavin Steiber 12. Totals - 18 9-20 49.
Lancaster - Cole Kreul 5, Dawson Bowen 17, Hayden Knapp 2, Evan Gates 4, Austin Mumm 16, Jordan Reuter 12, Aaron Murphy 3, Jalen Schmitz 6, Nate Timmerman 19, Ryan Gallinger 3. Totals - 37 7-10 84.
3-point goals - RR: Bloom 1, C. Crubel 3; L: Bowen 3. Team fouls - RR 12, L 13. Fouled out - None.