by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A quick 10-0 deficit did not faze the Rogers Royals in their section opener against St. Cloud Tech as they took control for a 68-60 victory in first round of Section 8AAAA at home Tuesday evening.
Josh Turnquist led with 20 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocked shots as the Royals won their first-ever Class 4A playoff game.
“Tech came out on fire,” said Rogers coach Joe Belka. “They hit two 3-pointers right away and scored a couple times in transition and we were behind 10-2 … and then 12-2. But we didn’t panic. We chipped away and were tied at halftime, and in the second half, we started to use our size to our advantage.”
Along with the 6-7 Turnquist’s stellar game, which included a pair of 3-point plays as the Royals pulled away, the Royals got 14 points and 11 rebounds from 6-8 Michael Schreiber, Meanwhile 6-3 forward Nick Runge hit four 3-points for 12 points of the bench and 6-1 forward Austin Barbeln chipped in 9 points and 5 rebounds.
“Nick gave us some great minutes off the bench,” said Belka, “and Gunnar Bloom (backup freshman point guard) did a good job against their press. We had a good team effort.”
Rogers (19-8), the No. 2 seed, was the only higher seed win win in the quarterfinals expected to be wide-open, with all eight teams having winning records and none of them ranked in the state.
Top-seeded Buffalo lost to No. 8 Brainerd in double overtime 69-67, No. 3 Elk River was taken down by Bemidji 67-64, and No. 4 St. Michael-Albertville was nipped by Moorhead 56-55.
On Saturday, Moorhead (16-9) takes on Brainerd (14-12) at 10 a.m. followed by Rogers vs. Bemidji (14-12) at St. Cloud State in the semifinals.
Rogers caught up at 33-33 by halftime, and led by 15 with three minutes left, before a late surge by Tech closed the gap.
Andy Foley drilled 20 points for Tech (15-12) and Alex Matchinski added 15.
Rogers scoring – Michael Schreiber 14, Josh Turnquist 20, Nick Runge 12, Austin Barbeln 9, Gunnar Bloom 2, Garrett Hol 2, Nate Roehl 3, Sam Spilles 6