RIO – The Randolph Rockets blasted out of the gates and never looked back, building a huge early lead on their way to a 53-38 victory over Rio on Thursday night in a battle of first-place teams in the Trailways West Conference at Rio High School.

Randolph (4-1 conference, 5-4 overall) hit five of its six 3-pointers in the first half, including three in the first 7 minutes of the game. Sophomore Brianna Prieve, who hit four 3-pointers on her way to a team-high 16 points, made a pair from long range in the early going, helping the Rockets take a 16-5 lead with 11:05 to play in the first half.

The loss for Rio (3-2, 7-2) was its second straight after it opened the season with seven wins in a row.

Randolph’s fifth and final 3-pointer in the first half came from junior Courtney Vander Galien, giving the Rockets a 29-9 lead with 4:00 to play in the half. It was part of a 14-0 run that helped Randolph build a 23-point lead at one point.

Randolph head coach Chad Kaufman said while it was nice to see his team shoot the ball so well, there was more that went into the strong offensive performance in the first half.

“Moving the ball on the offense and just trying to reverse the ball as much as we can and trying to get the best look, making the extra pass when we can,” Kaufman said was key to his team’s start. “That’s something we’ve been stressing on a daily basis.”

Rio continued to struggle in the second half, as they were trailing by 31 when Prieve made her fourth 3-pointer to make it 50-19 with 5:10 left to play. While Randolph did much of its damage in the first half from the outside, it found more open opportunities in close in the second half. Junior post Lily Alsum scored five straight points during one stretch and had seven of her 10 points in the second half for the Rockets.

Kaufman said Rio’s increased pressure in the second half resulted in some of those open shots down low, but his team has been focusing on getting the ball inside more often.

“They were trying to put pressure on perimeter, but that is always one of our goals,” Kaufman said. “We try to touch the post when we can, because we got some decent post players and we know if we touch the post, that’s going to open things up on the perimeter for us too.”

The final score ended up being much closer, as Rio finished on a 15-1 run in the final 3:00 of the game. Rio leading-scorer Jordyn Hutzler scored 11 of her team-high 21 points during that stretch for the Vikings.

Kaufman said he was happy with how his team defended Hutzler for most of the night.

“We knew coming in that Hutzler is a heck of an offensive threat,” Kaufman said. “We try to play her a little more man up and not worry about so much off the ball. We tried to shade toward her a little bit and not give her easy looks and contest everything she had.”

RANDOLPH 53, RIO 38

Randolph32 21 - 53

Rio 11 27 - 38

RANDOLPH – Schick 2, Prieve 16, Vander Galien 9, Budzinski 2, Woreck 7, Adel 2, Westra 3, Kohn 2, Alsum 10. Totals 20 7-13 53.

RIO – Hutzler 21, Sampson 6, Graham 2, A. Hagenow 3, S. Hagenow 4, Quist 2. Totals 16 5-13 38.

3-point goals – RA 6 (Prieve 4, Vander Galien 1, Woreck 1), RIO 1 (A. Hagenow 1). Total fouls – RA 20, RIO 14. Fouled out – Woreck.