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Rochester John Marshall edges Northfield in tight Big 9 Conference tilt

By Nick Gerhardt, SportsEngine, 02/20/18, 10:00AM CST


Despite being limited to five first-half points, Matthew Hurt finished with 23 points in squeaker over Raiders.

Matthew Hurt (1) went over Mason Otterdahl for two of his 23 points in Rochester John Marshall's 62-61 victory at Northfield. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine

Click photos to view the entire gallery from the game

Rochester John Marshall's Simon Werven (30) pulled down a rebound between Northfield's Mason Zick (33) and Mitchell Stanchina. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine

As comfortable as Matthew Hurt is shooting the ball, he’s just as comfortable passing it.

That proved to be the case Tuesday as the Rochester John Marshall standout deferred to his teammates in the first half before taking over in the second, lifting the Rockets to a 62-61 victory over Northfield at Northfield High School.

Hurt finished with 23 points to lead Rochester John Marshall, ranked No. 6 in Class 4A by Minnesota Basketball News. But he had just five points in the first half, instead finding teammate Eric Stai for open looks. Stai scored all 12 of his points in the first half as the Rockets built a 26-24 lead at halftime.

“Matt’s extremely unselfish, almost too much,” Rockets coach Jim Daly said. “It’s no surprise. Eric’s a great player having a great year.”

After the break, though, Hurt got better looks and scored 18 second-half points to lead the Rockets (21-2, 17-2) to their 10th straight win. His 23-point total differed sharply from the 34.8 point per game average the junior carried into the game, but he’s just fine with that as long as it adds up for a win.

“I just believe in my teammates that they can make shots,” Hurt said. “The first half I wasn’t really scoring, but it wasn’t really bothering me. I was just trying to make the right play.”

Hurt also finished with 16 rebounds and five assists.
Rochester John Marshall expanded that two-point halftime lead to eight at times in the second half, but the No. 10-3A Raiders kept coming in waves to keep within striking distance.

Northfield (15-7, 12-6) went on a 6-0 run with less than seven minutes remaining to take a 49-48 lead after Mason Zick sank two free throws. The Raiders held a lead until Hurt tied the game with two free throws with 4 minutes, 33 seconds left.

Then Hurt knocked down a pull-up three-pointer with 3:49 left to give the Rockets a 55-52 lead they never surrendered. Hurt scored nine points in the final five minutes to preserve the win.

“I like the big moments,” Hurt said. “I like when it’s a tie game. That’s what you do in the driveway.”

Daly said his team needed to hit two three-pointers in the second half to win. Hurt’s three-pointer was No. 2, signaling that the Rockets were done with Northfield hanging around.

“I felt like if we could make a couple of threes in the second half we’d be OK,” Daly said. “I said that to my assistant, ‘If we can just make two in the second half.’”

It was the only three-pointer Hurt made in the game. He finished 1 of 4 on three-pointers and 6 for 14 from the field.

“He’s just so good down the stretch,” Raiders coach Andy Berkvam said. “He finds ways to score.”

Hurt hit two free throws with 10 seconds left for a four-point lead before Northfield's Carter Hodapp hit a three-pointer with four seconds left to make it a one-point final.

“I’m proud of the way we fought back,” Berkvam said.

Northfields senior Alex Rasmussen (3) pushed the ball up court. Rasmussen scored 16 points to lead the Raiders. Photo by Mark Hvidsten, SportsEngine

First Report

Rochester John Marshall kept its Big 9 Conference title hopes alive Tuesday with a 62-61 victory over Northfield at Northfield High School.

After being limited to just five points in the first half, Matthew Hurt finished with 23 for the Rockets. Eric Stai found himself the open man much of the first half, scoring 12 points to help give Rochester John Marshall a 26-24 lead.

Junior forward Simon Werven contributed 13 points in the victory.

Alex Rasmussen, fresh off a 25-point game Friday in a 71-44 win over Winona, finished with 16 points for Northfield (15-7, 12-6). Both Carter Hodapp and Mitchell Stanchina contributed 12 points each for the Raiders, ranked No. 10 in Class 3A by Minnesota Basketball News.

The No. 6-4A Rockets are trying to stay within striking distance of league leader Austin. Rochester John Marshall (21-2, 17-2) trails the No. 2-3A Packers by just a game and will meet them Friday, March 2 to possibly decide the conference crown.

The MN Basketball Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only. 

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