by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
In an eventful week for Rogers Royals sports on several fronts, the girls basketball team made sure they remained part of the excitement by defeating the Moorhead Spuds 52-38 in their playoff opener at home Thursday evening.
Emily Reichert scored 17 points in the last home game of her four-year tenure at point guard. The only other senior, 5-8 post Jordyn Motter, a two-year starter, contributed 6 points and anchored the defensive effort in the paint.
“We left it all on the court,” said Motter, when asked about the emotions of a final home game.
On Friday night, Rogers boys hockey will take on Hermantown in the section finals at Duluth, while boys basketball hosts Cambridge-Isanti, with a victory meaning they’ll share the Mississippi 8 title with St. Michael-Albertville, which would be a “first” for RHS. Also, two Royal wrestlers are at “state” starting Friday morning.
And the Royal girls, seeded fourth in Section 8AAAA, will try for a semifinal upset against top-seeded Buffalo on Saturday at St. Cloud State.
“We are focused. We’re always there for the boys, of course, but our season comes first,” said Reichert. The girls would not be making the trip to Duluth, she said, but will be cheering for the boy cagers on their senior night.
Junior forward Courtney McClay added 10 points and junior guard Kelsey Frain had 9 for the Royals. The team was16-for-22 on free shots, led by Frain at 6-for-6.
No.5 seeded Moorhead (9-16) was led by Katie Rosenfelt with 11 points and Jenna Driscoll with 7.
Rogers had its first playoff game as a Class 4A team, moving up from 3A this year, and had their school’s first-ever duel in any sport with a Moorhead team, located 206 miles away.
“That’s what happens when you move up to Class 4A,” said coach Jeremy Digiovanni. “Our section goes all the way to Moorhead and Bemidji. But that’s all right. I told the girls, it’s fun to play someone you have not seen before. I scouted Moorhead last week and that was the first time I’d seen them.”
About the victory, the coach assessed, “We won this one with our defense,” referring to the Royals’ pressure on the ball that led to several breakaway baskets and disrupted the Spuds’ offense.
About the season, Motter said, “We’ve had our ups and downs … mainly offensive problems. But our defense has always kept us in games.”
Looking ahead to Buffalo, which has beaten Rogers 61-34 and 40-32 in conference play, Motter noted, “The second one was pretty close. We could do it.”
There were no first-round upsets in 8AAAA, as Buffalo beat Brainerd 57-40, No. 2 St. Michael-Albertville drubbed Bemidji 74-36, and No. 3 St. Cloud Tech ousted Elk River 53-38.
In the semifinals Saturday at St. Cloud State, the Royals (12-15) will take on Buffalo (23-4) at 1 p.m., followed by STMA (20-7) vs. Tech (17-10). The finals will be held Friday at St. John’s, 7 p.m.