Rouse didn’t let a hostile crowd and a foreign environment get in its way Tuesday night.
The No. 15 Raiders opened up an early lead and never looked back, overcoming some late turnovers and suffocating press from Cedar Park to beat the Timberwolves 63-52 on the road to remain perfect early in district play.
“Our defensive intensity was way up,” Rouse head coach Shane Krause said. “Our teamwork just making extra passes and trusting our teammates on both ends of the court was huge. Cedar Park was shooting lights out and we just had to weather the storm until the end.”
Kyle Mitchell scored a game-high 26 points for Rouse, which has won eight straight games. Michael Forster added 19, Gavin Sharp scored 10 points and Trevor Berry and are Smith had four points apiece.
Tanner Radke led the way for Cedar Park with 20 points and five 3-pointers while Karson Cater chipped in with nine points. Luke Ferony had seven points while Ryan Spyker and Eric Weeks each had six.
“There is a friendly rivalry,” Cedar Park head coach Blake Brown said. “The unfortunate thing was there was no intensity at the beginning of the game on our part. Rouse is good and they stretched out the lead. Our guys fought back and showed some grit at the end.”
Rouse started hot and jumped out to a 15-6 lead after the first quarter. The Raiders opened the second quarter on a 6-0 run to push their lead to 21-6, but Cedar Park responded with an 8-0 run to cut the gap with under five minutes left in the half.
Mitchell hit his only two 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions for Rouse and sparked a 13-0 run to end the half and take a 20-point lead into the break.
The Raiders came out of the break and continued their hot shooting. But the Timberwolves started to press them early in the fourth quarter and forced bad turnovers and bad mistakes and cut the lead to as few as nine points.
“A lot of people might look at it and ask ‘Why didn’t you press from the beginning?’” Brown said. “We’re not a pressing team. We painted ourselves into a corner and had to do that.”
The highlight reel plays picked as the game intensified. First a tomahawk dunk by Forster, followed by a contested triple from Radke and then a behind the back pass from Mitchell. Radke cut the lead to nine points again with just over minute to play after two straight 3-pointers, but the Raiders’ lead was too big to overcome.
“We haven’t practiced against the press and that’s on me to get us a little more ready for that,” Krause said. “At the beginning, we had trouble getting organized and getting lined up correctly. Once we got settled in and got some layups and dunks that kind of closed it out.”
Rouse next plays Friday at 8 p.m. when it hosts Cedar Creek before going on the road next Tuesday at 7 p.m. to face Georgetown in the last game before the Christmas break. Cedar Park has Friday off and heads to Bastrop to meet Cedar Creek Friday at 2:30 p.m.
“We’ve implemented a lot of new stuff this year and we’ve come a long way because we’re playing a whole new system,” Brown said. “That being said, there are three or four losses that we shouldn’t have. They’re learning how to play, now we’ve got to learn how to win.”
Other LISD scores:
Taylor 62, Glenn 29
Rouse 42, Cedar Park 42