Little River boys advance to regional finals, 65-48

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LITTLE RIVER, Kan. (CIK) With weather conditions deteriorating outside, things were heating up inside for the Class 1A regional semifinals in Little River.

In the end, the host Redskins capitalized on 10 3-pointers and a late technical foul to get by Stafford 65-48 in a physical battle. Little River plays St. John Saturday for the regional championship.

"On the offensive end we were definitely out-sized," said Little River guard Trey Rolfs. "They got a lot more offensive boards than we would like them to, but in the end we boxed out, got them out of the way, and came away with a win."

Little River looked to be pulling away with a 28-19 lead at the half. Stafford junior Ethan Hildebrand put a kink in things with the first seven Trojan points of the second half. The Redskins maintained a cushion with a 3-point play from sophomore Jayden Garrison but the lead shrunk to just 40-37 by the end of the third quarter.

Then Rolfs warmed up. The Little River sophomore entered the fourth quarter with 10 points before knocking down back-to-back treys. Brayden Sears added a basket to keep the gap at 48-40 with 4:26 to play.

Stafford was still hanging around when Trojan senior Caleb Hildebrand thought he drew a charge on contact from Garrison. The call went the other way for Hildebrand's fifth foul of the night, and he picked up a technical foul once back on the Stafford sideline.

That spelled the beginning of the end for the Trojans. Garrison made all four of his free throws on the way to a 19-point night. Rolfs swished another three - his third of the fourth quarter and fifth of the night. He finished with 21 points.

"I don't usually look to shoot the ball every time I catch it, but if I'm hot in a game I'm probably going to look to shoot it almost every time," said Rolfs.

Down the stretch, Matt Dougherty and Graham Stephens caught the Trojan defense sleeping, then Rolfs and Stephens added a pair of insurance free throws each. Stephens finished with 12 points and six boards in the win.

Ethan Hildebrand tied Rolfs with 21 points and also grabbed six rebounds. Senior Aleska Manojlovic added 12 points and eight boards for the Trojans.

Saturday's regional finals in Little River have been moved up with the girls' game beginning at 1 p.m. and the boys tipping off at 2:30.