For some matchups, you might as well throw the records and all the pregame analysis out the window. When certain teams meet, you can all but assume it’s going to be a thriller, some how, some way. That goes for Monticello vs Rocori, a matchup that has been exciting ever since the mid 1990s, when the teams started clashing in the state tournament more years than not.
The two teams met again Saturday, in front of a nice crowd at Monticello High School, and even if each team has some work to do before either can realistically think about the state tournament, the Spartans and Magic still provided a memorable battle.
Rocori ended up walking out of the gym with a 62-61 win, but not before Will Bauman and the Magic pushed them up and down the court, all the way to the final buzzer.
The Spartans led 28-22 at the half. But behind Bauman, Monticello never let them get comfortable. The two teams traded baskets and short runs for much of the half, as momentum (and a long term lead) stayed elusive. In the final minutes, the Magic took a lead. With two minutes to go, it was 60-59, in favor of the home team. Monticello held the ball, but an errant shot gave it back to Rocori. University of Minnesota Duluth recruit Jonah Eisenschenk, who had been outplayed by Bauman for much of the night, made the Magic pay for a quick shot on the other end. His two point bucket gave Rocori the lead back, and it would end up being for good.
After a Monticello turnover, Eisenschenk made one of two free throws to push the lead to two. The Magic had one last shot, getting to the line for two free throws with just seconds left, but were only able to convert one of two free throws. And as the ball bounced away harmlessly on the second attempt, the clock ran to :00s, giving the Spartans the win, and adding another chapter to the ongoing rivalry that is Monticello vs. Rocori.
Bauman led the Magic with 25 points in the game, but he was given solid help from his teammates including Hayden Laimer who hit some big threes and finished with 10 points and Brody Grantz who added nine points. Eisenschenk scored 16 for the Spartans.
Monday night, Monticello traveled to Sauk Rapids and used a big first half to come back home with a victory.
The Magic led 33-18 at the half before holding off the Storm down the stretch for a 52-46 victory. Bauman finished with 18 points, while Laimer added 14 points plus three rebounds and two assists.
Monticello heads to Elk River for its next game, scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m.