By Pat Harty
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Tommy Rapp only scored three points during Regina’s 74-63 victory over Tipton on Tuesday, but they might have been the three most inspirational points for his team this season.
“It was incredible,” said Regina junior guard Jake Phillips. “We watched him in football go down and he tried to come back from the ACL. We knew he was going to be out for basketball, and getting him out there for senior night and getting four shots in a row was pretty special.”
Rapp had big plans for his senior season as a quarterback and as the only returning starter on the basketball team.
But he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament early in the football season and has been recovering ever since.
Rapp was inserted in the starting lineup on Tuesday, along with three other seniors, as part of Senior Night at the Regina gym.
His head coach and his teammates were determined to get Rapp in the scoring column. They, obviously, didn’t want him driving to the basket on his surgically repaired knee.
So they had Rapp set up from behind the 3-point line and they kept feeding him the ball. Rapp missed his first three shots, but his teammates kept rebounding the misses and throwing the ball back to him. Rapp finally connected on his fourth shot to give Regina a 3-0 lead.
Fellow senior Carter Daniel then connected on another trey and the Regals led 6-0 less than one minute into the game.
The fans gave Rapp a rousing ovation as he was removed from the game.
“It was really great to have one more moment on the court with the seniors and with the team,” Rapp said. “I was very grateful to the team for letting me do that, letting me come in and for all the guys working hard to rebound and keep giving me a shot.”
Regina’s lead didn’t last long, though, as Tipton went on a 13-6 scoring run and led 13-12 after Logan Hoffman made two free throws with 3 minutes 29 seconds left in the first quarter.
Regina then closed the first quarter with a 15-8 scoring run, with nine of the points coming on three 3-point baskets.
Regina made five 3-pointers in the first quarter and led 27-21 after the first eight-minute period.
Tipton trailed after the first quarter despite making 8-of-10 field-goal attempts. However, none of its baskets in the first quarter were from 3-point range.
Both teams struggled on offense in the second quarter, combining for just 21 points. Regina failed to make a 3-pointer in the second quarter, while Tipton sophomore Luke Becker made consecutive treys late in the second quarter.
Becker’s second trey trimmed the deficit to 36-29. Both teams made one more basket apiece in the second quarter, giving Regina a 38-31 lead at halftime.
Senior night then turned into Jake Phillips night in the second half as the junior guard scored 18 of his game-high 21 points after halftime. Phillips also led Regina with four 3-point baskets, with all but one coming in the second half.
“I think everything started clicking on offense,” Phillips said when asked what the difference was for him in the second half. “We were just running the offense and getting good shots.”
Regina’s defensive pressure also led to some easy baskets in transition for Phillips and for his teammates.
And yet, Tipton still refused to wilt under the pressure.
The Tigers closed the third quarter on a 10-2 scoring run, slicing the lead to just one point at 50-49 heading to the fourth quarter.
Hoffman made the first basket of the fourth quarter to give Tipton a 51-50 lead. But the lead didn't last long.
A dunk by Regina freshman center Even Brauns and a 3-pointer by Phillips put the Regals back on top at 55-51. But Tipton crept back to within two points at 57-55 on a basket by Hoffman, who finished with 19 points.
The Tigers would get no closer than that as Regina improved to 12-8 overall. Tipton fell to 11-9.
Jocoa Kerschen made his only 3-pointer of the game to give Regina a 62-55 lead with 4:15 remaining.
The Regals also closed the game on a 16-8 scoring run, thanks largely to Phillips, who scored 10 points in the fourth quarter.
Regina scored 23 points in the fourth quarter alone after combining to score 23 points in the second and third quarters.
“I thought Jake was phenomenal and it doesn’t surprise me,” said Regina coach Stu Ordman. “I’m hopeful he plays like that every game because he’s so capable.
“But I thought he really reached back in another gear and had an outstanding night.”
The 6-7 Brauns also had a solid performance with 11 points and at least five blocks.
“He’s working hard trying to improve,” Ordman said. “He’s come so far.”
As for Rapp, he had the green light heading into Tuesday’s game. It was Ordman’s way of saying thanks for persevering through a tough senior year.
When asked how many shots he would’ve allowed Rapp to take, Ordman said:
“Infinite. We actually had practiced it the last couple practices.”
Ordman then praised Rapp for all that he brings to a team.
“Tommy is a remarkable person and a terrific leader,” Ordman said. “His teammates have watched him struggle in football and not being able to do that and then rehab.
“As fine an athlete Tommy Rapp is, he’s even more of an incredible person.”
Tipton 21 10 18 14 – 63
Regina 27 11 12 23 – 74
Tipton (63) – Logan Hoffman 7-17 5-5 19, Andrew Stewart 6-11 4-5 19, Daulton Mente 1-2 0-0 2, Zach Ford 1-5 0-0 2, Frank Bierman 3-4 1-2 7, Luke Becker 4-8 0-0 10, Brendon Claussen 1-1 0-0 2, Jacob Tischuk 1-3 0-0 2, Quintin Mesick 0-0 0-0 0, Bryce Deerberg 0-1 0-0 0, Trent Pelzer 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Hermiston 0-0 0-0. Totals 24-52 10-12 63.
Regina (74) – Even Brauns 3-7 5-6 11, Sam Stein 1-3 0-0 2, Jack Jensen 0-1 0-0 0, Carter Daniel 1-2 0-0 3, Tommy Rapp 1-4 0-0 3, Jocoa Kerschen 2-6 2-2 7, Ryne Schooley 4-6 0-0 9, Blake Berns 1-2 2-2 4, Jake Phillips 8-11 1-4 21, Masen Miller 4-7 2-2 12, Zach Seaman 1-4 0-0 2, Luke Stein 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-53 12-16. 74.
3-point goals – Tipton 5 (Stewart 3, Becker 2); Regina 10 (Phillips 4, Miller 2, Daniel, Rapp, Kerschen, Schooley). Fouls – Tipton 12, Regina 14.