The Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets opened the men’s basketball season at home on Wednesday night against Dakota County Technical College out of Rosemount. The Jackets played their first regular season game after making a run into the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament last year, finishing as the national runner-up. In case you didn’t know, that wasn’t their first deep foray into the postseason.
Head coach Brian LaPlante has built a very good program in his two decades at the college. Including Wednesday night, his overall record at the school 396-174. Over the course of his career as Yellowjackets coach, he’s taken his team to six national tournaments. The Yellowjackets have some things to clean up (it’s early, who doesn’t) they were very entertaining to watch. I’d encourage more members of the community to spend some time at the Regional Sports Center and take in some basketball this winter.
The Jackets led by a point at the half, 35-34, but Dakota Tech outscored RCTC 38-36 in the second half to pull out the win. Late in the second half, Malik Jones (Chicago, IL) made a three-point play on a lay-in and free throw to give the Yellowjackets a one-point lead. However, the Blue Knights would answer with points of their own. RCTC had one last chance with 1.2 seconds on the clock. Jones wound up with the ball at half court and let it fly from there, with the ball clanking off the front of the rim before falling to the floor while the buzzer sounded.
Dakota County won the turnover battle with the Yellowjackets, 14-20. Those 20 RCTC turnovers would lead to 25 points for the Knights and that likely was a deciding factor in the game. Neither team shot the ball from the free throw line. Dakota would shoot 60 percent (20 for 33) while Rochester went for 56 percent (9-16). You’d think since the Knights doubled the number of Jacket free throws, Dakota was more aggressive taking the ball to the basket, and you’d be right.
RCTC seemed content to take shots from the perimeter for most of the night. They would finish the night shooting 46 percent (28 for 60) from the field. Rochester was six for 17 from beyond the three-point line while the Blue Knights were four of ten.
The Yellowjackets had four of their starting five in double figures on the night. Malik Jones scored 13 while Stillwater product Nick Ogren also had 13 (two for three beyond the arc). Jones was also the top rebounder with 11.
The Yellowjackets are home on Friday night to play Milwaukee Area Technical College in the second game of a doubleheader at 8:00. The women’s game will start at 6.
Highlights from Wednesday night’s game: