Blue Devils upset Yellowjackets

Published 10:07 pm Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Riverland Community College men’s basketball team saved the best for last. The Blue Devils played up to their full potential in the final home game of the season when they established tempo early on and upset RCTC 87-79 in Riverland Gym Wednesday.

The Blue Devils had lost 83-61 to the Yellowjackets (19-5 overall, 8-3 MCAC) earlier this season, but RCC wasn’t going to let that happen twice. Sophomore Jace Klinkner had 24 points and three assists for the Blue Devils (16-8 overall, 7-4 MCAC) and sophomore Robert Parker added 25 points, four rebounds and four assists.

Riverland’s Octavein Johnson gets a tough two over RCTC’s Tyree Caruthers during the first half Wednesday night at Riverland. Eric Johnson/

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“We owed them one and we had to make sure we came out hard and hit them first,” Parker said. “Coach tells us all the time that we’re the most athletic team in the conference and we believe that. It was a great team win.”

RCC scored the first six points of the second half to go up 46-39 and the Yellowjackets were never able to tie or take the lead again. RCTC got as close as 78-74 with 1:48 left in the game when DeAndre Smith, who had nine points and nine rebounds off the bench, posted up for a score and Parker drove to the hoop; to make it 82-74 with 1:03 left in the game.

RCC head coach Derek Hahn said the Blue Devils showed their full potential in Wednesday’s win.

“[RCTC is] a physical team and they play really physical defense,” Hahn said. “It was a phenomenal performance from our end and I was most impressed with mentality. This team has folded for most of the year when adversity hit, but tonight they stuck with it and they kept battling. This team has continued to progress throughout the year.”

Whenever the Blue Devils need a big score, Klinkner was there to produce a pull-up jump shot or a quick drive to the hoop. He said the focus came on the defensive end and carried over to offense.

“It felt really good to win after losing to them at their place,” Klinkner said. “It shows that we’re getting better. We focused on stopping them and breaking their press. We made some tough stops tonight.”

Robert Parker battles through the RCTC defense during the first half Wednesday night at Riverland. Eric Johnson/

RCTC 39  40    79

RCC 40  47    87

RCC scoring: Robert Parker, 25; Jace Klinkner, 24; Deandre Raggs, 11; DeAndre Smith, 9; Kwantez Simmons, 4; Josh Bryant, 3; James Landherr, 3; Josh Royston, 2; Jacob Persoon, 2; free throws: 67 percent (16-for-24); rebounds: 32 (Smith, 9); turnovers: 8