Not Bad, for Openers
New-Look Raptors Show That Old Playoff Form
Rivendell’s Jack Steketee pulls the ball free, but gets his legs tangled with Twin Valley’s Cade Nesbitt during Rivendell’s win last night in Orford. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Rivendell head coach Tim Dyke prays during a moment of silence for the victims of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut before last night’s game. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Rivendell’s Scott Calhoun, middle, and Jack Steketee, left, double up Twin Valley’s Hunter Therrien during their game in Orford last night. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Rivendell's Scott Calhoun fades back to shoot during the Raptors' 66 - 48 win against Twin Valley. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »
Orford — It was during the third quarter of last night’s 66-48 win over Twin Valley when Rivendell boys basketball coach Tim Dyke mistook one of his seniors for another.
Dalton Thayer had just made an excellent pass through the lane in transition, dishing off to Nate Eastman for an open, midrange jump shot to extend an already-healthy Raptor advantage to 23 points.
“Nice play, Logan!” the animated Dyke called out from the bench before realizing his verbal gaffe. “I mean, Dalton! I got your name wrong. Nice play, though!”
It was opening night for everyone.
Despite a few execution and communication issues that are to be expected during the first game of the season, Rivendell (1-0) led by as many as 25 in cruising past the Wildcats (0-1).
Eastman (20 points), Scott Calhoun (14) and Tim Stimson (12) all had career highs for the new-look Raptors, who bring back just a pair of starters from last year’s 21-3, Vermont Division III finalists. Senior Jack Steketee had 12 points and 10 rebounds despite facing double coverage under the hoop, while the Raptors’ other returning starter, Josh Marshall, was held to two points. Logan Gardyne had two points and eight rebounds as the Raptors held a 36-14 advantage on the boards.
Calhoun’s and Stimson’s production came off the bench.
“The thing that makes you feel good is that we have 11 guys (on the roster) who we can put out on the floor and they can contribute,” Dyke said. “When we needed a few more rebounds, we turned to our bench and they got them for us. Scott Calhoun lit it up right away when we needed it.”
So did Eastman, scoring seven of Rivendell’s first nine points, the last on a swing pass from Calhoun to make it 9-4. The Raptors shot 50 percent (8-of-16) from the field in the first quarter and stretched its lead to double digits when Stimson hit consecutive 3-pointers — one with 40 seconds left in the first quarter, the other early in the second — to make it 21-11.
Rivendell’s nine first-half turnovers, many unforced, kept Twin Valley within striking distance, although the Raptors led by 11 at the break.
“At times we got a little erratic,” Dyke said. “In practice, it’s easy to execute and do what you want. It’s a lot harder during games, when the adrenaline is going and you’re tired.”
Rivendell put the game to bed in the third, outscoring the Cats 18-6. The Raptors began the second half on a 20-6 run to build the 25-point lead, 53-28, early in the fourth quarter. Five different players scored during the rally, including a smooth layup on the run from Luke Bell and three straight post baskets from Steketee.
“We need to work on getting the ball to him underneath better, but it’s also a matter of how the game is going,” Dyke said. “That will come.”
Twin Valley’s Dal Nesbit scored 15 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter, breaking free to exploit Rivendell’s zone defense along the way. Nesbit hit three 3-pointers in the quarter to pull the Wildcats within 12 with less than two minutes to go.
With the Wildcats moving into a running offense, Dyke at one point called for a press scheme that the Raptors’ defense failed to execute. Dyke and assistant coach Jeff Huntington reminded them several times from the bench, but it was never implemented on the court.
“That was just a lack of communication and something that can come (in the first game),” Steketee said. “We had a lot of (substitutes) out there at the time and just weren’t on the same page. That’s something that we’ll fix at practice.”
The Raptors held a 10-3 edge on the boards in the final period and five players — Eastman, Stimson, Marshall, Steketee and Calhoun — all scored during the game’s final three minutes to ice it.
“It was definitely good to see a lot of guys get into it,” Steketee said. “We did a lot of different stuff tonight. It was a good way to start the season.”
Free Throws: Before announcing the starting lineups, Rivendell athletic director Bob Thatcher called for a moment of silence in recognition of those killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. yesterday. ... Rivendell hit 14-of-16 free throw attempts, led by Steketee’s 4-for-4 performance. ... Graduates Dylan Pelletier (19.9 ppg), Kyle Huntington (11.5), Daniel Gray (6.0) and Travis Streeter (3.3) accounted for nearly 60 percent of Rivendell’s offense (951 of 1,599 points) last season. Marshall (7.8 points per game in 2011-12) is Rivendell’s top returning scorer. Steketee had 7.7. ... It was Rivendell’s fourth straight win over Twin Valley, including a 72-51 decision in the first round of the playoffs two years ago. ... The Raptors play their next two games against neighboring rivals, hosting Thetford on Thursday before visiting Oxbow next Saturday.
Jared Pendak can be reached at email@example.com or 603-727-3306.