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Cougars advance in Roughrider after rolling Raiders

Heart River junior Jayden Krivoruchka attempts a shot against Richardton-Taylor on Tuesday during the quarterfinals of the Roughrider Tournament at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center. (Parker Cotton / The Dickinson Press)

With a first-year head coach and a handful of players seeing varsity for the first time, Richardton-Taylor's boys basketball team got its season off to a rough start on Tuesday.

Heart River jumped all over the Raiders from the onset in the quarterfinals of the Roughrider Tournament, going ahead 14-0 in the first four minutes of a game that would end with the Cougars winning 65-35 at the Knights of Columbus Activities Center.

"They're a young team with a new coach," Cougars head coach Greg Pruitt said of the Raiders. "Coach (Shawn) Alder did a great job with them for the first game, but we have a little bit more of and experienced team, and we knew our game. We wanted to get to the rim."

The win sends Heart River into the Roughrider semifinals against Mott-Regent at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

In the early going, and throughout the game, the Cougars imposed their will against Richardton-Taylor. The 14-0 start was literally just the beginning.

Heart River put the clamps on Richardton-Taylor's guards and found ways into the passing lanes. Turnovers became quick offense going the other way, building a lead to as many as 37 points.

"Our main goal was really to work on our defense," Cougars senior forward Zane Besler said. "We know we can shoot from everywhere, but we really wanted to keep their points lower."

Besler led three Cougars in double-figures with 21 points. Senior guard Dion Madler scored 11 points and had a game-high five assists, and junior forward Jayden Krivoruchka came off the bench to hit two 3-pointers and finished with 10 points.

"We wanted to get the tempo in our favor. We wanted to go inside-out, and the kids did a great job of that. They went to Zane right away, and Zane got hot and got some good looks," Pruitt said. "They executed the way we wanted to to start the game, and I was proud of them for that."

Richardton-Taylor, meanwhile, struggled to get shots to fall. The Raiders trailed 23-6 after the first quarter and 44-17 at halftime. They were able to get into the lane on occasion, but shots were closely contested most of the time and just rimmed out.

"It's a transition, and they'll get better as the year goes on," Alder said. "We know we have a lot to work on. Transition defense — we would score a basket and then stand there. I thought we were in good shape, but it's the first game for all of us, so we're going to learn from here.

Sophomore Collin Kuntz came off the bench to tally eight points and lead the Raiders in the scoring column. Seniors Ethan Kuntz and Jayden Olson each backed him up with six points.

"I think we had good looks, but we were maybe too patient," Alder said. "A bunch of new kids and a new offense, and they're all looking to run the offense, they're not looking to shoot. I think that'll get better as the year goes on."

Heart River 65, Richardton-Taylor 35

RT 6 11 7 11

HR 23 21 15 6

RT: Collin Kuntz 8, Ethan Kuntz 6, Jayden Olson 6, Brendan Butterfield 4, Logan Kuntz 4, Adrian Hauck 4, Matthew Naumann 2.

HR: Zane Besler 21, Dion Madler 11, Jayden Krivoruchka 10, Tristen Schuhrke 9, Jesse Canode 6, Colton Boltz 3, Aaron Kuntz 3, Cauy Shypkoski 2.

3-pointers: RT 2-7 (Olson 1-3, Ethan Kuntz 1-2, Nathan Schwartz 0-1, Butterfield 0-1), HR 4-12 (Krivoruchka 2-5, Besler 1-1, Madler 1-3, Shypkoski 0-1, Boltz 0-2). Free throws: RT 3-8, HR 3-10. Total fouls: RT 10, HR 10. Rebounds: RT 26 (Olson 5), HR 24 (Besler 5). Assists: RT 5 (Ethan Kuntz 3), HR 10 (Madler 5). Steals: RT 5 (five tied, 1), HR 17 (Besler 3, Krivoruchka 3). Blocks: RT 2 (Butterfield 1, Olson 1), HR 1 (Schuhrke 1). Turnovers: RT 16, HR 5.

Parker Cotton

Cotton is the sports editor at The Press, where he covers the area's high schools. He came to The Press as the Multimedia Editor in May 2015 after graduating from the University of Northern Colorado with his master's degree in Sociological Practice. He holds undergraduate degrees in Journalism and Sociology from UNC, as well. 

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