by Jared Hines
Contributing Sports Writer
Rogers junior Jordan Belka drove towards the basket early in the second half of the Royals’ 82-59 win over Chisago Lakes on Jan. 10.
The student section’s volume to Belka’s right started to increase as they hoped for Belka to dunk the basketball on the fast break. The 6-foot-6 forward went up with the ball in his right hand and the ball clanked softly off the rim as it launched into the air. As Belka made his way back to the floor below, the ball followed, softly kissing the rim and falling in.
Sometimes it is just your night.
“I think our chemistry has been great the whole season and it continues to help us win games,” Belka said afterwards. “Our team is like a family and I think it shows on the court.”
Coming off an impressive 71-35 win over section opponent Moorhead over the weekend, members of the Royals were pumped up to begin conference play. The Royals are the defending conference champions, a title they would like to have at the end of the 2016-17 season as well.
The Royals started the game with another hot start, as Belka and Mitch Spilles combined for 23 points in the first half. The team shot 54-percent as a unit, rolling to a 45-25 halftime lead.
“Our team needs to keep improving on our defense and also we need to limit our turnovers,” Belka said. “We are off to a good start, but it is only a start.”
Belka led all scorers in the 23-point victory, shooting 7-for-14 from the field en route to 18 points for the Royals. Spilles contributed 13 points and 5 rebounds, while Trevor Brenning also finished in double figures with 10 points. Five Royals had three or more assists in the game, moving the ball around swiftly when Chisago Lakes transitioned into a zone defense.
“I really can’t pick out one person because everyone does so many great things every game,” Belka said when asked about who has stepped up for Rogers. “Everyone really contributes and everyone plays an important role in our team’s success.”
Rogers improved to 9-3 on the season, winning the first of nine straight conference games for the Royals. The team has difficult task ahead of them, playing three straight games on the road, including against Cambridge-Isanti on Jan. 13.
“We truly enjoy each other’s success and enjoy watching others make plays,” Belka said. “In order for us to reach our goals, we cannot be satisfied and have to continue to improve in all areas.”