A balanced Easton Valley attack spelled doom for the Edgewood-Colesburg boys basketball team as the squads clashed in the district semifinals at the Joe O’Donnell Sports Center in Clinton, Feb. 19. Easton Valley (20-3) drained nine of 18 three-pointers and had four players finish with over ten points en route to sinking the Vikings, 64-40.
“A lot of in-and-out shots that normally go for us just didn’t tonight,” Ed-Co head coach Justin Olind said after the game. “Easton Valley is a nice team, they play all around, inside, outside. I definitely don’t think they played harder than us, but they executed better and got better shots going and that makes a huge difference.”
Ed-Co players, though obviously disappointed, also recognized that they had overcome many obstacles this season and still finished out the year 16-7. The group began their season knowing they would be without one of their top scorers, senior Preston Rochford, after he went down in the football playoffs with an ACL tear.
“(Rochford) wouldn’t want us to make that excuse. With all the question marks we started the year with, and with only two guys that had a lot of experience playing at this level, I couldn’t be prouder of this group and how they responded to that this season,” Olind said.
The River Hawks jumped out to a nine point lead after the first quarter and led 34-19 at the half as the Vikings struggled to knock down shots all night. Senior Ethan Streicher, playing in his final high school game, came back strong to score 12 of his 14 points in the second half, but Easton Valley didn’t ease up until the final buzzer after taking on another 18 points coming out of halftime.
“We knew we had to rebound and run the floor. I thought we rebounded well, but we didn’t knock down our shots and our half court defense wasn’t where it needed to be,” Streicher said afterwards.
“It happens, that’s why it makes it so special when you do get to that ultimate pinnacle,” Olind added. “I see a lot of good things in the future, I’ll say that much.”
Sophomore Parker Rochford, who had averaged 20 points-per-game going in, finished the night as Ed-Co’s leading scorer once again at 15 to Streicher’s (17.9 ppg) 14. Junior Riley Ashline added seven.
Jessen Weber led the River Hawks with 14 points, but Easton Valley had no issues spreading the wealth as Kaleb Cornilsen finished with 12, Cade Jargo 11, Nate Trenkamp 10 and Cooper Kunde 9. Weber and Jargo also hit three treys apiece.
Even with the loss, Olind doesn’t see the recent success that has been enjoyed by Ed-Co sports going away anytime soon.
“What this senior group has touched has become so special and has grown so much with the hard work, dedication and their attention to detail. They’re such a good group to model for the younger guys, ‘hey, this is what it is now. Don’t be the group that slacks off and lets it slide back the other direction’,” Olind said.
Streicher, who played quarterback for the Vikings in their big year on the gridiron, weighed in as well.
“We’ve got a lot of motivated young guys. Parker (Rochford) is a great leader. They’ve got a lot of will to win, which is what it takes to be successful at high school sports.”