The Monmouth-Roseville Titans boys basketball team played their second straight home game last night, matching up with another contender in the Three Rivers Conference West Division opener. After a win on Friday night over Farmington, the Titans improved their record to 5-1, the same record as their opponent for last night’s home contest, the Riverdale Rams. In a game that would come down to the final minute of play, Riverdale’s late surge led by senior star Jake Willems would be too much for the Titans, as Monmouth-Roseville would fall 55-49 in their first game of the TRAC-West season.
After Riverdale drew first blood on an early basket from Junior center Brody Clark, the Titans would respond like they usually do with two straight threes from Aidan Almaguer and Darrion Smith to put Monmouth-Roseville up 6-2 early in the first quarter. Rams senior Jake Willems would help tie the game back up at 6 after splitting a pair of free throws before completing a three point play with 3 and a half minutes away in the first. Sitting tied at 13-13 after a back and forth stretch from both teams, Titans senior Andy Myers and Willems would trade free throws as Monmouth-Roseville took a 17-15 lead in to the second quarter.
Brody Clark opened the first quarter by tying the game back up at 17 all before the Titans would go on a mini 7-0 run, guided by 5 points from junior Ethan Clark and sophomore Cee Sarcomo to put M-R up 24-17, forcing the Rams to burn their first timeout of the game. A strong take under the basket by senior Nico Avendano pushed the Titans lead up to 9 points, however that lead was quickly cut to 3 points off of two straight threes from Rams freshman Paxton Kiddoo. On a strong showing to end the half from Avendano and Tyler Finnicum, Monmouth-Roseville put the lead right back at 9 points to end the half, leading 34-25 at the break.
The second half would begin with Riverdale starting to chip away at the Titans lead with 8 early points from Jake Willems. Monmouth-Roseville would hold on to a small lead thanks to a three ball from Darrion Smith and a put back from Nico Avendano, but after Paxton Kiddoo knocked down his second three of the game for Riverdale, the Titans were forced to take their first timeout of the game, holding on to a 41-40 lead over halfway through the third quarter. Right out of the timeout, Willems would give the Rams their first lead since the early part of the first quarter, and they would hold on to that 44-42 lead going into the potential final quarter of play.
In the crucial final 8 minutes of the game, Avendano would knot the game up with a take under the basket. The next score did not come until under the 6 minute mark when Willems put another shot in to put the Rams back up 46-44. The Titans and Rams would trade missed shots for the next several possessions before Riverdale called their third timeout of the game with 4:52 to play. Out of the timeout Jake Willems and Aidan Almaguer would trade baskets, however Almaguer’s shot was from downtown to cut the Riverdale lead to one point. This 48-47 lead would be expanded on by Rams senior Dawson Peterson at the charity stripe, but would be cut back down right away by Avendano with 58 seconds left to play. Up 50-48 with 24 seconds to play Jake Willems would make all 4 of his late free throw attempts to put the Rams lead up to 6 points. This late lead would be slightly too much for Monmouth-Roseville to overcome, as Riverdale would come away with the 55-49 win.
In the stat book for the Titans, Nico Avendano led the way with 12 points, Aidan Almaguer poured in 9 points, while Darrion Smith and Andy Myers added 6 points a piece. Now sitting at 5-2 on the season, Monmouth-Roseville’s next game will come this Friday night, when the Titans travel to Knoxville to take on the Blue Bullets at 7:00.