‘In his blood’: Sophomore steps up, leads FW-M past Rugby

Even on a team known for its balance, Four Winds-Minnewaukan sophomore Trayvon McKay managed to stand out Thursday.

With 5.3 seconds left in a first-round Class B tournament game, the lanky 6-foot-2 wing player drew a charge on a would-be tying bucket by Rugby star Kyle Lovcik, connected on two free throws after being fouled on the ensuing inbounds pass and finished with a game-high 22 points to lead the Indians to a 53-49 win at the Minot State University Dome.

The Indians (23-2) advance to play Region 8 champion Trenton (23-2) in a semifinal at 8:15 tonight.

With the score knotted at 49, FW-M’s Austin Longie attacked the basket from the left wing and scored on a scoop shot to give the Indians the lead.

Rugby got the ball to Lovcik flashing along the left baseline on the next possession. He lofted a floater as his momentum continued toward the basket and brought him into McKay, who fell to the ground as the ball went through the hoop.

“I knew the ball was going to Lovcik so I stepped in,” McKay said.

It was the offensive play of McKay that put the Indians (23-2) in a winning position, though. He hit several contested shots, including two of his three 3-pointers with a Rugby defender’s hand nearly touching his face.

“We knew going into it that he was gonna be athletic and he was gonna knock down some big shots,” Rugby coach Mike Santjer said. “We contested a ton of them, he just made some plays tonight.”

Said FW-M coach Rick Smith: “Last year we stuck him into the starting lineup in the second game of the year as a freshman because he just doesn’t show any fear. When he’s out on the court, he thinks on the court and plays very fearless. When you play games like this and you have to have stops, you have to have scores – it’s in his blood.”

The game wasn’t the high-scoring affair the Indians are used to playing.

The FW-M defense stifled Rugby in the second period, holding the Panthers without a basket for five minutes. Rugby sophomore Brad Heidlebaugh got loose for two layups in the final minute, but Rugby managed just eight points in the second frame and trailed 24-20 at halftime.

Midway through the third quarter an exciting stretch ensued when four consecutive 3s were hit – two by each team – and FW-M came out of the exchange leading 37-35.

Longie finished with 17 points for the Indians, who lost Collin Delorme early in the second half to an apparent knee injury. In his stead, sophomore Oliver Gourd III scored four points and played solid post defense on Lovcik and Heidlebaugh.

Lovcik had a team-high 16 points on 5-of-16 shooting and Heidlebaugh finished with nine points and a game-high 13 boards. Kyle Halvorson chipped in 12 points for Rugby (24-2), which plays Cavalier in a consolation game today at 2:45 p.m.

Smith didn’t have an update on Delorme’s injury immediately following the game Thursday night, but the senior forward left the court on crutches.