It’s always nice when a program can get a win for its seniors on senior night. The Robinson Rams did that Monday with a 40-38 victory over Woodson, but their win was important to the program in other ways as well. The Rams hadn’t beaten Woodson in years–last season alone the Cavaliers defeated Robinson three times.
“It means a lot to the people that have been here,” second-year Robinson coach Ben Gildea said. “I’ve coached at South County and we beat Woodson a couple times and they’re a very tough team, but that was one of the messages tonight to the guys: they’re beatable.”
In the Patriot District, which is home to the last two state champions, confidence is gained one victory at a time. Monday you could see the Rams’ confidence grow as the game wore on.
Danny Checkosky set the tone early with the first points of the game. Checkosky, a reserve not used to playing regular minutes, buried a three-pointer to open the scoring. The Rams struggled to score after that, however, with Woodson’s tall and active defense limiting the Rams to just one more point the entire first quarter. In the second two three-pointers and eight points by senior Drew Pitter powered the Rams offense, but they still trailed 22-16 at intermission.
In the second half the Rams flipped the script entirely. They mixed in some zone and were active on defense, doing a better job limiting the Cavaliers’ tall front line inside. The offense flowed better with senior center Justin Elkin getting more touches. Elkin didn’t score in the first half, but he registered nine points, five boards, and two assists after the break.
“I thought we were much tougher in the second half and that was the difference,” Gildea said. “In the first half I think they beat us 17-8 on the boards, in the second half we only gave up one offensive rebound. And one of the offensive keys is to feed the post. That’s part of the toughness we keep trying to build in the guys.”
An Ethan Rothstein steal and Pitter finish gave the Rams a 40-34 lead with just under three minutes left in the game. Fortunately for the Rams, who missed a bunch of free throws down the stretch, that lead was enough. Woodson had its chances, though. A Chinguun Ganbold lay-up, his first points of the game, cut the lead to 40-38 with 1:13 left. After a Rams missed free throw Ganbold missed a shot, then forward Ben Jensen missed a follow. After another missed free throw Jensen missed a three-pointer and Elkin was fouled. Elkin missed his free throws, but Pitter saved the day with an offensive rebound to end it.
It wasn’t the smoothest win but Gildea and the Rams (2-6, 10-9) cared little about that after the game as they celebrated the victory and their seniors with cake. Pitter and Elkin led the way for the Rams, accounting for almost half their offense on the night. Junior Tanner LaPlante was also key for Robinson. The junior guard, normally a starter, had nine points and three assists of the bench, helping to stabilize things before halftime.
The up-and-down Cavaliers (3-6, 10-10), state champions two years ago, lost their fourth straight game. Senior center Cody Mains led the way for Woodson with ten points and eight rebounds. Alexander Anderson added eight points while Jensen and Donovan Boyce each added seven.
Both teams are back in action tonight with Robinson battling West Springfield and Woodson taking on Fairfax.
all stats are unofficial
|Threes: Pitter 2-2, Checkosky 1-2, LaPlante 1-3, LaJoie 0-1, Winchell 0-1, Delgado 0-2|
|Threes: Anderson 1-2, Ganbold 0-1, J.Jensen 0-1, B.Jensen 0-1, Boyce 0-3|