It seemed appropriate that the Rogers girls basketball team would host fellow ISD 728 rival Elk River for its first game in the new gym at Rogers High School Jan. 7. What used to be called “The River Battle” between the two teams, is now just another game on the conference schedule, but the energy is still the same. Bragging rights and conference standings are on the line.
Elk River started out strong, jumping out to a 13-5 lead, as Rogers had trouble getting their shots to fall early. Royals guard Ellie Buzzelle then stepped up big for the Royals. Buzzelle scored 15 of the next 18 Royal points with drives to the basket and three point shots to keep the game manageable.
Every time it seemed Elk River might be gaining momentum, Buzzelle was there to answer. Elk River took a 35-31 lead into halftime.
The second half started much like the first, with Elk River extending their lead to 43-33 less than 2 minutes in. This would be the high point for the Elks, however.
Rogers would score the next 11 points of the game, and after Clara Glad hit a three point shot to make it 44-43, Rogers would never trail again. Senior forward Megan Heinen also played an important role in the Royals win.
With the Royals holding a slim 3 point lead, Heinen scored 7 straight points off the bench, to give the Royals a 10 point lead with 7:59 left in the game. Heinen’s play gave the Royals the momentum and emotional lift that the Elks would not be able to overcome. The Royals outscored Elk River 37-22 in the second half, for the 68-57 victory.
The Royals improved their record to 8-2 with the win (their 5th straight), 4-1 in North Suburban Conference play. Elk River drops to 4-7 overall, and 2-3 in the conference.
The Royals were led by Buzzelle, with a game high 23 points. Alli Born and Katelyn Maciej had 10 points each, and Glad and Heinen added 9 each, to lead the Royals scoring attack. Rogers’ will be on the road at Totino-Grace Jan. 13, before returning home against Spring Lake Park Jan. 18.