HALSTEAD — Three-point shooting is Halstead's most tangible strength, but coach Joe Gerber doesn't want it to become the Dragons' identity.
So even though the Dragons made nine three-pointers in their 62-47 win over Cheney in the Adolph Rupp Tournament championship game on Saturday night, Gerber was most proud that Halstead matched the Cardinals in grit and kept them from finding a comfort zone.
"I don't think we assume that we're going to make the three-point shot," Gerber said. "We assume that our defense and our rebounding is going to be there every single night. We assume that we are going to scrap and claw and out-hustle teams as best as possible. That's what we hang our hat on, right there."
Halstead hadn't won its host tournament since 2003. It was their sixth Rupp title in the tournament's 41 years.
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Though Halstead shoots three-pointers mostly out of necessity, since they don't suit up a player taller than 6-foot-1, the Dragons have nearly perfected the art of the three. That's why adding effort to the equation, as Halstead did Saturday, can produce 15-point wins.
In taking a 37-26 halftime lead, the Dragons made 6 of 8 three-pointers. A cold spell to start the third didn't prompt the Dragons to even consider a break from the long-range game, and soon after they regained their stroke.
Jared Regehr made half of Halstead's six first-half threes, and he helped get the Dragons back on track by making two more in the third quarter.
"We've got some good shooters, so they're going to go in sometime," Regehr said. "We know to keep shooting to a certain point. When shots aren't falling, we've got to attack the defense and get into the lane and get to the foul line to get our shots going a little bit."
Halstead missing its first three three-pointers of the second half allowed the Cardinals to make their only serious rally. Cheney scored the first five points of the second half to trim Halstead's lead to 37-31.
The Dragons answered, and though Cheney kept it relatively close for much of the third quarter, a 5-0 Halstead run to close the third pushed its lead to double digits for good.
"That's happened to us several times this year, where teams have cut the gap," Gerber said. "That's where you find out what you're made of. I don't think that any of our team members just expect Cheney to come out and not make a run at us. They're a good team, so our boys expected that."
Cheney has five players taller than Halstead's tallest, but the Dragons still managed a 30-29 rebounding edge. Halstead shot 40 percent from two-point range, but its possessions were usually efficient because it committed six turnovers. The Dragons made 15 of 19 free throws.
"I think every team we play is bigger than us because we don't have anybody above 6-1," Regehr said. "We hit the boards hard. They're a good rebounding team but we had to come out in the second half and box out better and get some offensive rebounds."
Halstead's defensive effort was most apparent on players not named Sean Osler. Cheney's 6-foot-5 junior forward, the tournament MVP, scored 22 points on 10-of-19 shooting.
The rest of the Cardinals combined to make 7 of 26 shots. That made Osler's 22 points, though impressive, basically meaningless.
"No one person stops him," Gerber said. "Our goal wasn't to hold him to six or eight or even 10, we just didn't want him to get 30. And no one person can do that. It's five people playing very, very smart and knowing personnel and what they can and cannot do."
Halstead17 20 15 10 — 62 Cheney12 14 12 9 — 47
HALSTEAD: Ratcliffe 15, Regehr 22, McKee 8, Pjesky 6, Santoya 7, Gundy 2, Becker 2. Totals 19 (9) 15-19 62.
CHENEY: Williams 1, Beilman 12, Bolinger 2, Alstrom 2, Hill 8, Osler 22. Totals 17 (3) 10-15 47.
Moundridge 46, Rose Hill 43 — Rose Hill defended Trey Unrau, one of the state's leading scorers, but the Rockets couldn't keep the star sophomore off the free-throw line during the third-place game.
Unrau finished with 25 points. He made 11 straight free throws in the second half, including eight in the fourth quarter. He missed 10 of his 15 shots from the field and 6 of 9 three-point attempts.
Rose Hill led much of the way but ultimately couldn't overcome a poor shooting night. The Rockets were 16 of 54 and 2 of 18 from three-point range. Their leading scorer, Tyler Shirley, missed 17 of 21 shots and all eight of his three-point attempts, including a deep three at the buzzer.
Unlike Unrau, Shirley couldn't offset his shooting woes by supplementing his scoring with high free throw numbers. Though Shirley was 5 of 7 from the line, he finished with 13 points.
No Rose Hill player consistently made up for Shirley's lack of scoring. Dillon Rapp added 12 points for the Rockets, but he was 4 of 14 shooting and 0 of 6 from beyond the arc. The Rockets shot below 30 percent (16 of 54).
Still, the Rockets never trailed until an Austin Neufeld basket put Moundridge ahead 42-41 with 1:46 to go. Rose Hill went without a basket the rest of the game, and Unrau finished off the win by making four free throws in the final 27 seconds.
Rose Hill15 9 11 8 — 43 Moundridge11 6 15 14 — 46
ROSE HILL: Shirley 13, Khalidi 3, Rapp 12, Newton 7, Foltz 4, Paddock 4. Totals 16 (2) 9-13 43.
MOUNDRIDGE: Loganbill 1, Unrau 25, Otte 2, J. Kaufman 8, Graber 10. Totals 13 (5) 15-18 46.
Haven 56, Inman 47 — Haven won the fifth-place game behind the inside-outside duo of Kyle Lee Osborn and Devin Callon. The 2009 tournament MVP, Callon got the Wildcats going early, scoring 11 of his 17 points in the first half. He made three three-pointers before halftime.
Osborn did his best work in the second half, notching 13 points as the Wildcats held off Inman rallies. He finished with a game-high 19 points.
Luke Ropp led Inman with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Inman7 16 13 11 — 47 Haven12 18 11 15 — 56
INMAN: Friesen 4, Goering 5, Martin 12, Ropp 13, Wenthe 5, Corn 8. Totals 17 (3) 10-20 47.
HAVEN: Callon 17, Foster 6, Osborn 19, Bontrager 3, Childs 5, Snodgrass 6. Totals 18 (6) 14-24 56.
Andale 61, Garden Plain 42 — Andale outscored the Owls 35-15 in the first half, cruising into seventh place after taking a 13-point first-quarter lead. Scott Hermreck paced the Indians with 16 points, and Mitch Schiff scored 10.
Jake Becker was the only player in double figures for Garden Plain, scoring 10.
Andale19 16 18 8 — 61 Garden Plain6 8 16 11 — 42
ANDALE: Hermreck 16, Bergkamp 7, Meyer 7, Hawkins 7, Rock 2, Meierhoff 6, Mobley 2, Schiff 10, Bogner 2, Archer 2. Totals 27 (1) 6-16 61.
GARDEN PLAIN: Klausmeyer 3, E. Kerschen 2, Becker 10, Bugner 9, Sponcel 5, Hartshorn 1, Crabtree 2, C. Kerschen 3, Mainebach 6, May 1. Totals 15 (2) 10-25 42.