Length gives SC fits
Inside and out, Rock Creek Academy had the offensive firepower to put points on the scoreboard in the Class A Borden Sectional opener last Tuesday.
Falling behind early, South Central was slow to gain traction and unable to rally back against the Lions. Backed by eight 3-pointers, Rock Creek ended the Rebels’ season, 61-40.
The length of Rock Creek, a pair of front-court players at 6-foot-6 and 6-8, is what the Rebels had issue with offensively. During the first nearly five minutes of play, South Central managed one field goal, a free-throw line jump shot by Zack Goodwin.
Scoring for the Lions came a tad easier. Corralling offensive rebounds provided several second- and third-chance opportunities with Ronald Karenzi and Devin Burt scoring the game’s first points.
Getting hot from the outside was Will Brown, who knocked down a pair of 3-pointers. Rock Creek led 11-2 in the early going before the Rebels used a 3-pointer by Nathan Shaffer to inch back within six.
‘That was the game,’ South Central coach Ryan Crick said of the start. ‘The first several possessions they had six or seven offensive rebounds, and they capitalized.’
Fellow senior Ben Cunningham added a triple for the Rebels late in the opening eight minutes. Both teams were rather sloppy in the early going, with each committing five turnovers, but it was the Lions who forged ahead, 15-8.
‘I feel we came out and played timid,’ Crick said. ‘We had great shot opportunities in the first quarter, and we either passed them up or we didn’t make them. Their defense was good tonight.’
South Central forced six turnovers in the second stanza but was unable to capitalize on many of the chances. They managed to put up 10 points during the span, with Nick Wemes and Cunningham having four each.
Although the scoring started to come for South Central, the 3-point shooting of the Lions didn’t go away. Off the bench, T.J. Hayes knocked down two triples during an eight-point span of his own. Four bombs were sank by the Lions in the second quarter with Tanner Gerth and Brown making the other two.
The six threes allowed Rock Creek to take a comfortable, 35-18 lead into the locker room.
‘We didn’t do a good enough job recognizing shooters,’ Crick said. ‘A player like Will Brown is capable to string together shots. He hit one, and we failed to get to him after that.’
Brown would close with a game-high 17 points, including four 3-pointers.
Play opened on the inside in the second half with Gedeon Nzombi and Karenzi scoring underneath. From downtown, Gerth and Brown hit additional long-range efforts.
Points for South Central in the third came mainly from Shaffer. He finished with eight points, five coming in the frame.
Attacking the paint more in the fourth, Goodwin provided five straight points to bring the Rebels within 20 points, 53-33.
‘They are a good shot-blocking team, but we have to get to their chest,’ Crick said. ‘We used pads and played physical in practice to prepare.’
Unfortunately for Goodwin, he was the victim of a flagrant foul, forcing him to sit out the remainder of the contest. He closed with a team-best nine points.
Length of the Lions limited the offense of the Rebels for much of the game.
‘They are long, and we know when we throw lob passes they’ll likely get to them because we aren’t a tall team,’ Crick said. ‘We worked on short, quick passes, but it took us a while to get going. We’re a team that, when we knock down shots, we feel good about ourselves offensively.’
The teams met Jan. 11, with the Lions coming out on top, 70-47.
Scoring seven points each for the Rebels were Trevor Quire and Cunningham.
Rock Creek improved to 14-9 on the season, while South Central’s campaign ended at 6-17.
South Central is slated to lose four ‘ Austin Knear, Jordan Sullivan, Shaffer and Cunningham ‘ to graduation.
‘There is a lot of work ahead of us,’ Crick said.
Rock Creek Aca. 15 20 13 13 ‘ 61
South Central 8 10 7 15 ‘ 40
Rock Creek Academy (14-9) ‘ Brown 17, Hayes 11, Gerth 9, Nzombi 8, Burt 6, Karenzi 6, Joseph 2, Wilkinson 2.
South Central (6-17) ‘ Goodwin 9, Shaffer 8, Quire 7, Cunningham 7, Wemes 4, Veith 2, Shewmaker 2, Day 1.
3-point goals ‘ Rock Creek Academy 8 (Brown 4, Hayes 2, Gerth 2); South Central 4 (Shaffer 2, Quire, Cunningham).