Eckhart’s 21 not enough to stop Rock Valley

Joe Galligan, Staff Writer

It has been a rough time for the Madison College men’s basketball team. In the team’s latest home game, it fell 105-74 to rival Rock Valley College in their first meeting of the season. The WolfPack struggled to get good offensive looks early on, shooting 22 percent from the 3-point line and just 24 percent overall in the first half.

Rock Valley came out hot, shooting almost 50 percent from inside the arc and out.

“I think the first thing to say is that [Rock Valley] is probably the best team in our conference,” said WolfPack coach Scot Vesterdahl. “They didn’t miss too often. As a team, on the season, they’re shooting 38 percent from 3-point range, which on our level is phenomenal.”

The Golden Eagles were also dominant on the boards, outrebounding Madison College 30-13 in the first half. Rock Valley’s offensive efficiency and physicality helped propel them to a 47-21 halftime lead.

After some adjustments at the half, the WolfPack were able to tighten things up, improving their shooting to 59 percent, including 43 percent from three point range.

“In the second half we did a better job of getting cuts, of attacking the basket, (and) not just settling for jump shots that weren’t going in,” said Vesterdahl.

Madison College’s Griffin Eckhart had an impressive game, scoring 15 of his 21 points in the second half. He was productive in the post, pulling down six rebounds and making 10 of 13 from the field despite playing only 20 minutes. The rebounding for Madison College also improved in the second half, with the WolfPack nearly equaling Rock Valley’s total of 19.

However, these second half improvements were not enough as Rock Valley maintained control over the game, continuing their efficient performance on offense. Leading the way for the Golden Eagles was freshman Jared Mayes, who grabbed eight rebounds to go along with his 33 points on 14 for 21 shooting.

“All those things we work on every day in practice just weren’t there,” said Vesterdahl. “But you know, give credit where credit is due. They’re good. You figure out in a hurry in this conference, and really in any conference, that you can’t play one half of basketball.”

Since the loss against Rock Valley, the WolfPack appear to be improving. They split the first two games of their final long road trip of the season before falling at Harper College.

The next home game for the WolfPack will be on Saturday, Feb. 8, at Redsten Gymnasium for the Jam the Gym.