Weathering the storm worked wonders for the Cedar Grove-Belgium boys’ basketball team last Friday.
Despite missing standout forward Jon Herzog due to an injury, the host Rockets surged ahead early against Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah and carried a 34-26 lead into halftime.
Elkhart Lake pulled within two points in the third period, but Cedar Grove-Belgium regrouped to secure a 74-68 win in Central Lakeshore Conference play.
“With Jon out of the lineup (with a strained Achilles tendon), we had to have other guys come through for us,” Rockets coach Jim Meinen said.
Seniors Josh Ruppel and T.J. Obbink carried much of the load in Herzog’s absence.
Ruppel scored a team-high 24 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and Obbink had 20 points. Kyle Kirst and Luke Kaat added 13 and nine points, respectively.
The Rockets, who improved to 5-6 in CLC play and 8-8 overall, clung to a 46-42 lead after three quarters. They quickened the offensive pace in the final period by outlasting Elkhart Lake, 28-26.
Obbink had 11 points in the fourth quarter, when the Rockets made 10 of 14 free throws.
“T.J. has really taken on a leadership role for us,” Meinen said.
Meinen also singled out the front-line play of senior Luke Kaat and sophomore R.J. Lemmerman.
The Resorters (3-9 in the conference) got most of their firepower from Blake Loucks and Justin Schneider, who scored 20 and 19 points, respectively. Loucks, who had 13 points in the fourth quarter, was particularly tough on the Rockets.
“He broke us down defensively several times,” Meinen said. “Fortunately, we hit some big baskets and free throws down the stretch.”
Kiel 59, CG-Belgium 53
An 11-point first-quarter deficit was too much for the Rockets to overcome in a nonconference home lost Jan. 31.
David Esswein scored 16 of his game-high 27 points in the opening period to spark Kiel to a 24-13 lead.
Cedar Grove-Belgium trailed, 35-23, at halftime before making a third-quarter run that pulled it within 47-42. However, the Rockets lost Herzog to an injury late in the period and were unable to gain the lead.
Herzog will be sidelined indefinitely, Meinen said.
Obbink led the Rockets with 18 points, and Ruppel and Kirst had 11 apiece.
This week, Cedar Grove-Belgium played Milwaukee Destiny on Monday (see related story) and will host Howards Grove in a CLC game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
On Feb. 14, the Rockets will travel to Sheboygan Christian for a 7:30 p.m. contest.
Image Information: CEDAR GROVE-BELGIUM’S T.J. Obbink tried to dribble out of tight pressure applied by an Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah player. Photo by Sam Arendt