Rockets ‘don’t let ’em breathe’

Boys Middle School Basketball

Rockingham pulls away in 3rd quarter, completes perfect season

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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ROCKINGHAM — Rockets coach William Hunter said it before Thursday night’s game and he’s said it several times throughout the season: Defense wins championships.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Cameron Carraway (14) is the key man on a block from a field goal attempt by the Panthers' Javonte McDonald.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Cameron Carraway (14) is the key man on a block from a field goal attempt by the Panthers’ Javonte McDonald.

It’s a mantra he reminded his team about at halftime as Rockingham led by a single point against No. 2 Sandy Grove in the Southeastern Middle School Conference Championship game. Scoring is fun, but keeping the other team from scoring is putting yourself in control of your own destiny.

So the Rockets changed up their defensive strategy to start the third quarter, tossing aside anything but a pressure defense. The defense forced turnovers, which created scoring opportunities on the offense. And just like that, the top-seeded Rockets used a 17-5 run in the quarter quarter en route to 53-40 victory over No. 2 Sandy Grove.

The win caps a perfect 13-0 season in Hunter’s first season as coach.

The goal, Hunter said of the Rockets’ second-half approach, was simple.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Javonte McDonald's field goal attempt is no good under the pressure of Rockingham's defense.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Javonte McDonald’s field goal attempt is no good under the pressure of Rockingham’s defense.

“Don’t let ’em breathe,” Hunter said. “They were frustrated.”

And he wasn’t talking about his own team. Instead, Hunter’s comment accurately described the Panthers’ reaction — or lack thereof — to a suffocating defensive effort. But it didn’t start out that way.

Rockingham 10-7 after the first quarter but momentum quickly shifted towards the visitors as the Panthers scored the first eight points of the second quarter —including six by Javonte McDonald — to take a 15-10 lead.

The Rockets pulled to within 19-16 when Cameron Carraway hit a jumper with 1:30 left before halftime. Rockingham closed out the half by scoring six of the next eight points — two apiece by Jahaye Stanback, Roderick Newton and Bobby Terry — for a one-point lead, 22-12, at intermission.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, the pendulum never shifted back. The Rockets opened the third quarter with a 10-2 spurt, led by Terry and Carraway with four points each, for a commanding 32-23 lead.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Jahaye Stanback scores two of his 12 points in the Rockets' 53-40 victory over Sandy Grove.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Jahaye Stanback scores two of his 12 points in the Rockets’ 53-40 victory over Sandy Grove.

Newton hit Rockingham’s only 3-pointer of the game to jump the Rockets to a 35-26 advantage, and layups by Stanback and Newton helped their team to a 39-26 lead with a quarter to play.

Newton led all scorers with 15 points. Carraway and Stanback added 12 points each in the win while Terry tacked on 11 and D.J. Stephens chipped in with three.

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Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, Rockingham, Sports

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