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Rattan Ends Okarche Season in State Quarterfinals

March 01, 2023 - 12:13
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Rams pull away in second half for 75-60 victory

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    Jett Mueggenborg drives through the Rattan defense during Wednesday's game. (KT&FP Staff Photo)

He didn’t want to blame it on youth because most every team at the Class A state tournament is chock full of underclassmen.

But Aaron West was at a loss after his team was dealt a 75-60 defeat by Rattan in the quarterfinals early Wednesday morning at State Fair Arena.

“Youth? 9 a.m.?” said the Warriors’ head coach. “I don’t want say it’s that, but that’s definitely the worst overall game we’ve played all year.”

Easton Roby scored the first points of the second half to bring Okarche within 33-28.

It went downhill from there.

The second-ranked Rams answered with a 10-0 run that featured two Okarche timeouts.

That pushed the Rattan lead to 43-28 with 5:00 left in the third and Okarche never got it back within single digits.

Roby had back-to-back buckets later in the third off Ram turnovers to get the Warriors within 46-35, but Rattan was able to push it back to 54-40 by the end of the third.

Jett Mueggenborg hit a pair of treys in the first half of the fourth quarter, but once again Rattan had a response.

Another 10-0 burst put the game away as it led 69-48 with 3:00 to go.

Even when Okarche was in it in the first half, West said the Warriors weren’t “in it.”

“They just kind of had a look to them,” he said. “You’d say something and they didn’t respond.”

Wyatt Pinkerton scored five straight in the first quarter to help the Warriors take a 15-11 lead.

Rattan scored the quarter’s final six points and led 17-15.

Jett Mueggenborg tied the game at 22-all with 4:32 left in the half, but Rattan scored seven straight while closing the half on an 11-4 burst.

Although Okarche’s trademark pressure did force Rattan into 14 first-half turnovers, the Rams also had success breaking it, which led to several easy layups.

“We ended up having to change our press to combat what they were doing on the back end,” West said. “And that meant no pressure on the ball and no traps.”

Meanwhile, Okarche’s offense went cold.

The Warriors shot just 28 percent (8 of 29) in the first half and 34 percent (20 of 59) for the game.

They were only 4 of 23 (17 percent) from 3-point range.

“We just didn’t have a lot of movement,” West said. “A lot of stuff we’ve done all year, we didn’t do today.”

Rattan only went 2 of 17 (12 percent) from beyond the arc, but was 28 of 40 (70 percent) inside of it. The Rams scored 54 points in the paint.

“They’re ranked No. 2 for a reason,” West said.

The fifth-ranked Warriors were paced by Jett Mueggenborg’s 23 points. He scored 14 in the fourth quarter.

Roby added 12 points and eight boards.

Pinkerton scored 11.

James Childers scored 22 points to go with eight rebounds for the Rams.

Keegan Robertson added 20 points.

The two were a combined 19 of 26 shooting.

Okarche’s year ends with a 26-3 record.

“It was a good year,” West said. “Did I think we’d only lose two games coming into this? No, the guys responded all year.”

And there’s reason for optimism considering the Warriors have only one senior on the roster.

In typical West fashion, he spit off the ages of every other roster in the state tournament field as well as those for some teams who knocked on the door.

“Pretty much everyone is young and has just about everyone back,” he said. “So there’s no guarantee you get back here, but I know this group is going to do everything they can to do it.”