Ar-We-Va turned up the defensive pressure in the second half on Monday night, as the Rocket boys opened Class 1A district basketball play with a 53-32 victory over Heartland Christian at Westside.
The win snapped an eight-game losing streak for Ar-We-Va, which improved to 6-16 overall on the year.
The loss ended Heartland Christian’s season at 10-11 overall.
After giving up 22 first-half points and holding a slim six-point lead at the break, Matt Wilken’s Ar-We-Va club outscored the visiting Eagles 25-10 in the second half to pull away for the lopsided triumph.
Up 33-28 with four minutes left in the third, the Rockets finished the quarter on an 11-0 run for a 44-28 advantage.
The run grew to 14 points, as Ar-We-Va led 47-28 just two minutes into the fourth.
"It was a physical game and I thought we matched them in that aspect, but what I was most happy with tonight was our defense. They had 22 points at halftime and we gave them 10 in the second half, so the guys really stepped up defensively after the half," commented Wilken, whose team outscored the Eagles 16-6 in the third and 9-4 in the fourth.
"I thought the guys really hustled tonight. We played hard. We might have turned the ball over too many times, but the guys got after it and played hard for four quarters tonight," the Rocket boss added.
Will Ragaller led Ar-We-Va with 17 points, including 11 in the second half. He added seven rebounds and three steals.
Cooper Kock posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards to go with three steals.
He netted eight of his 10 points before halftime.
Andres Cruz chipped in with six points, five boards and three assists.
Brady Miller had three points and five boards.
Kyelar Cleveland tossed in three points with three boards. Jeffrey Molina also had three points for the Rockets, which took on Boyer Valley in a Class 1A district quarterfinal game on Thursday night at Manning.
Boyer Valley defeated Ar-We-Va twice during the regular season, winning 62-35 on December 6 at Westside and 60-27 on Jan. 30 at Dunlap.
Syles Jordan led Heartland Christian with a double-double effort of 18 points and 16 boards, while D.J. Weilage added seven points and 11 boards for the Eagles.