JOHNSBURG – The first few minutes after halftime often sway the direction in which a game goes.
In Richmond-Burton’s case Friday, it took only 51 seconds.
That was all it took for the Rockets to wipe out Johnsburg’s three-point advantage and take control with red-hot shooting. Jeff Jankowski scored a driving layup, then swished a 3-pointer.
R-B’s Mark Marzahl felt the surge and hit a 3 of his own. R-B shot a sizzling 73.9 percent (17 of 23) from the field in the second half. The result was predictable, a 75-67 R-B victory in its Kishwaukee River Conference boys basketball game.
“We talked about bringing high energy and intensity on defense, and that turned into those eight points to start the second half,” Marzahl said. “We picked it up a ton, we trusted our shots and they went in. Our offense made great cuts, and we just trusted ourselves when we were shooting and had open looks.”
R-B (14-12, 6-3 KRC) hit 11-of-14 shots in the third quarter, then 6 of 9 in the fourth to close out the win. After Marzahl’s 3, Johnsburg called timeout, while the Rockets whooped and hollered on the way to their bench.
The Skyhawks never regained an advantage.
“We came out confident,” forward Shane Byrne said. “We knew we could beat them and we just knocked down our shots. Everybody was hitting their shots. [Those eight points] were a huge boost. Our intensity just picked up, and we were ready for the second half.”
The Rockets were led by Jankowski with 23 points, while Marzahl and Byrne each scored 15, and Luke Uhwat added 10. They shot 59.2 percent (29 of 49) for the game.
“We came out more focused in the second half,” Rockets coach Brandon Creason said. “The kids just worried about playing and focused on the game. We were too caught up in the atmosphere in the first half and worried about what was being called. We took good shots, we made shots. For the most part we’ve taken pretty good shots all year, we just missed a lot. Tonight, we hit those open looks.”
R-B pushed its lead to 52-43 late in the third quarter, but the Skyhawks (14-11, 7-2) pulled within 59-58 with 5:15 remaining in the fourth quarter on Zach Toussaint’s fifth 3. Uhwat scored two baskets after that, and Johnsburg never again had a chance to tie or take the lead.
“They got open, and they hit open shots,” Skyhawks coach Mike Toussaint said. “The first three minutes of the second half is always big. They hit us in the face and we didn’t respond to it. They seemed like they wanted it more than we did. We tightened up some times and didn’t finish around the basket and make good decisions.”
Zach Toussaint led Johnsburg with 26 points, while Brody Frazier added 13 points and a game-high seven rebounds.
Toussaint hit a pair of free throws with 1:04 remaining, but the Rockets made 6-of-8 free throws in the final minute for the victory.
“It’s a great rivalry. I love playing these games, it’s my favorite,” Marzahl said. “I know all the kids, I grew up playing against them. It’s a lot of fun.”
STAR OF THE GAME
Shane Byrne, Richmond-Burton, Sr., F
Byrne hit 7-of-10 field goals and had four rebounds and a blocked shot to help the Rockets defeat Johnsburg. R-B coach Brandon Creason said Byrne’s all-around contributions are invaluable to the Rockets.
73.9: Percent field-goal shooting in the second half for R-B (17 of 23).
AND ANOTHER THING...
The first class was inducted into the Johnsburg High School Athletic Hall of Fame before the game. The members are Don Bentz, Lora Jacobs, Katie Parker, John Smith, Paige Fiedorowicz, Michelle McDonald, C.J. Fiedorowicz, Melissa Dixon, the 2003 boys basketball team and Jim Meyers, who was athletic director for the school’s first 25 years.
Richmond-Burton 75, Johnsburg 67
RICHMOND-BURTON (75): Townsend 3 0-0 7, Marzahl 6 0-4 15, Jankowski 8 5-5 23, Uhwat 3 4-7 10, Byrne 7 1-2 15, Anderson 2 0-0 5, Bassett 0 0-0 0, Bailey 0 0-0 0. Totals: 29 10-19 75.
JOHNSBURG (67): Toussaint 8 5-6 26, Smith 3 0-0 8, Sobiesk 1 0-0 2, Frazier 6 1-2 13, Groves 3 2-2 8, Paprocki 1 0-0 3, Gutierrez 2 0-0 4, Straulin 1 1-2 3, Muehlfelder 0 0-0 0, Stern 0 0-0 0. Totals: 25 9-12 67.
Richmond-Burton 17 14 25 19 – 75
Johnsburg 18 16 16 17 – 67
3-point goals: 7 (Marzahl 3, Jankowski 2, Townsend, Anderson), Johnsburg 8 (Toussaint 5, Smith 2, Paprocki). Total fouls: Richmond-Burton 15, Johnsburg 18. Technical fouls: Jankowski (R-B).