Romfo twins combine for 64 as No. 7 L/E/M routes No. 6 Shiloh Christian
Not much got in the way of L/E/M seniors Simon and Grant Romfo from reaching the basket on Monday night. Simon would not only finish the first half with 18 points but would down his 1000th career point in the final minute of the half.
As Simon chugged along, Grant at one point would be bleeding from his eyebrow and would manage to play until the final buzzer. With blood-stained on his jersey, Grant would put up 33 points against Shiloh Christian, collecting seven 3-balls along the way to help No. 7 Langdon/Edmore/Munich (3-0) blow past No. 8 Shiloh Christian (2-2), 84-69. Simon was not far off from Grant's total as he would finish with 31 as the twins would combine for more than 75 percent of the Cardinals scoring on the day.
"Both of them had huge games. I don't even think Grant hardly missed a shot tonight," Cardinals head coach Andy Haaven said. "They really did take the game over. They were hitting tough shots and taking it to the rim. Simon is really good in transition and was finishing those 3-point plays and Grant was feeling it from the outside."
Coaches and players knew coming into the game that Simon was only 17 points off from hitting the millennium marker in career points, but they didn't think the senior was going to reach the milestone in the first half. He would find his strengths at the line, going 5-7 at the charity stripe. As time ticked down in the quarter, the Skyhawks would pull within two of the Cardinals' lead.
With only a few seconds left, Simon would drive to the net and layup to put him at a career point tally of 1,001 and see Haaven call a timeout to celebrate. Haaven said Grant, who hit the milestone marker last season, and Simon aren't concerned with their own scoring but want to get the team to win. However, L/E/M has looked to the duo over the past two years in getting them the points they need to win, leading both of them to the 1,000 point marker.
"I'm proud of him [Simon]. It's not an easy thing to do to get 1000 points," Haaven said. "With Grant getting it towards the end of last season and Simon getting it now, I'm happy for them. They're absolutely team players and neither one cares if they score a point because they just want the win. However, it turns out that we need them to score, and that's what they do for their team."
As Simon dominated the first half, Grant took over in the second, throwing down 20 points. His efforts would propel the Cardinals to a lead that would extend to as large as 20 points. Grant was rolling, but there were some concerns if he was going to finish the game. He would collide with Skyhawks forward Carter Englund at the beginning of the fourth quarter, with both players drawing blood.
The scene looked worse than the accident as blood was visible on the floor and on both players, but both would get up and continue playing. Haaven said Grant was laughing about the incident after the game.
Grant wouldn't be as active as he was earlier in the game but would finish off the night with two 3-point plays, one off a made "and one" opportunity followed by a shot from outside the arc, capping his 3-point count off at seven. The Cardinals don't have Grant in the playbook to make seven 3's but saw he had a hot hand and capitalized.
"We don't really try to set up an individual to shoot like that," Haaven said. "It's more of a motion offense where everybody gets their touches and whoever is having the good night gets the shots. It just so happened that he [Grant] had some looks that he liked, took them, and knocked them down. To have seven 3's is a great thing, but for him, it doesn't surprise us that much. He's just a really good, natural shooter and knocks down shots every day."
Grant and Simon were all over the Cardinals scoring book but did get helping hands around the roster. Senior forward Jagger Worley had a strong night on the boards with 13 rebounds, falling short of a double-double with seven points. Just ahead of Worley in scoring was sophomore guard/forward Gage Goodman who knocked down a career-high nine points in the finish. Goodman would collect six of his nine points in the fourth quarter, off a made a trey and a 3-point play off a "and one" opportunity.
"It's good to see the younger guys score because not every night are all three of those guys going to be able to score," Haaven said. "They had Jagger locked up a little bit tonight, so we'll need some of those younger guys to step up and get their six, eight, 10 points to make up the difference. Gage did a good job of that tonight and Carter Tetrault had four. They stepped in and did their jobs."
Having a larger younger core this season, the Cardinals are seeing growth in their underclassmen group this week in physical play. Haaven said with this being the most physical game they have played this season, the guys off the bench did have a little bit of a delay in adjusting to the pace of play.
However, in the same light, the bulk of the roster is used to going into every game with a physical mindset...on the gridiron. Only three players on L/E/M's seven-man roster don't play on the football team, making the adjustment to pushing up against taller and bigger competition a secondary thought. With the Skyhawks posting 10 players over 6-feet tall, the Cardinals' experience in physical play came in big.
"A lot of them were on the football team this year, so they're used to contact, physical play, and a lot of pressure," Haaven said. "It's just about getting used to doing it in a different sport. They're pretty fearless and have stuck together, and are not backing down from anybody. It's just a matter of getting them to play together on the same page."
The physicality and push of the Cardinals would eventually see them outscore the Skyhawks 24-17 in the fourth quarter, wearing down Shiloh Christian's attack. L/E/M's win over the Skyhawks is one they're looking to use to booster their younger core, with the group playing such an active role on the defensive end. The Cardinals delve deeper into their road stretch as they head to Park River on Jan. 4.
"It's a big win for us, but we try not to get hung up over one win or one loss. It's a long season and I think we need to take everything in stride," Haaven said. "I think for the younger guys it's a little bit of a confidence boost that we can play some of the best teams in the state and not just compete, but win. Confidence is key for us in games like this and I think it'll be key for us going forward."