Sometimes, a rivalry is born over a long period of time. Other times, it’s just a perfect, natural fit from the jump.
Tandem Friends and Regents’ battles are one of those natural fits. Two pretty evenly-matched small private schools that only have to travel across town to lock up? That’s exactly what both programs need.
“Ever since we started this it has been a great game,” said Tandem coach Robert Jordan. “All the games have been close, either team could win.”
Monday evening in Tandem’s hard fought 64-53 win that was obvious as both teams played with something to prove in a rivalry that’s just a couple of years in the making. It could be the beginning of something special.
“I hope so,” said Regents coach Travis Johnson. “We’ve been playing them the last couple of years, split with them last year.”
The Badgers held off the Lions largely on the strength of 12 points in the fourth quarter by Latrell Winkey including a 6-for-6 performance at the line. The Badgers struggled early with shot selection which helped Regents hang in the game despite a rough start offensively.
“We didn’t have a very good shooting night overall, we had a tough time finding our rhythm,” Jordan said.
When Tandem had to have points down the stretch, Winkey kept attacking the basket and earning trips to the line. They also got a huge bucket from Jacob Rice and some solid play underneath by Matthew McCullough and Logan Ratzlaff. Jalen Anderson finished with 21 points on the night to bolster Winkey’s team-high 26 on the night.
“(Early on) we kind of went away from we normally do as a team and not really looking inside to our post guys,” Jordan said. “Once we called a timeout and started looking inside, we got some defensive stops, we got some turnovers and I think that kind of generated some energy for us.”
Regents, who came into the game at 11-1, struggled early offensively and finished with just 17 first half points, trailing the Badgers 28-17 at the break. Lions point guard Nick Stewart drew the unenviable task of marking Winkey most of the game, but early on was able to make an impact by making Winkey work for all 10 of his first half points.
“He plays with a lot of heart, he’s matured so much from one year to the next,” Johnson said. “He played really tough and did exactly what I asked him to do.”
Landon Swingler and Griffin Cottrell each finished with 14 points to lead Regents. The Lions likely would’ve had a shot at the end if just a couple more shots would’ve fallen in the opening half.
Tandem will try and keep its nine-game win streak rolling against another local foe Thursday at home against Covenant while Regents hosts United Christian Friday.