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2 sets of Lady Rockets collide this weekend

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Shelby, Rockcastle County will play at Garrard County Classic

By Todd Martin

The Lady Rockets will post a victory this weekend, but the question is which group it will be.

Rockcastle County, also the Lady Rockets, will face Shelby County at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Garrard County Classic.

And a shared nickname is not the only similarity between the two.

Both squads have made region titles and Sweet 16 trips something their fans look forward to on a regular basis this decade. Rockcastle took 12th Region titles in 2008 and 2006 and 13th Region titles in 2004 and 2005, and SCHS has five 8th Region titles since 2000 (2000, 2002-03, 2006-07).

And though both teams are looking up in the region standing this year, teams will be wary of both Lady Rockets.

Rockcastle boasts 12th Region preseason player of the year Sara Hammond.

A 6-foot-2 junior forward, Hammond can play inside and out and averaged 10.1 points and 8.2 rebounds last season.

Facing a player that big will be new for Shelby this year, and SCHS Coach Phillip Conder knows she'll pose a new set of problems.

"She's being recruited by Army, and she can really play," Conder said. "We'll run our match-up zone and see what we can do against her.

"She wants to turn and square-up to make her move to the basket, so we'll give her some room and make her hit a few first. Shayla [Bolin] is about 6-foot, so she can get a hand up in her face. If we press, we'll go small and give up the height but try to deny her the ball."

Conder hopes this game will give Shelby County a leg up for a couple upcoming games. Hammond's height will be similar to what the girls will see against Dunbar and its 6-1 forward, Ebony Rowe. Conder is also hoping Rockcastle will use Hammond in some high/low situations.

"Simon Kenton does a lot of that, so I'd like to see how we respond," he said.

Along with Hammond, Rockcastle returns 5-10 senior guard Jackie Alexander, who led the team in scoring last season at 12.8 points per game.

"She's a deadly shooter, and we have to know where she is at all times," Conder said.

Shelby County has continued to fine-tune its match-up zone this week in practice, and Conder added that he's tried to focus more on passing and rebounding, areas where the team struggled in the win over South Oldham.

"I think they're starting to get it," he said. "The girls are coming around, and they're getting better every day. This is going to be another good test for us. Rockcastle County is going to challenge to win that district again."

Good news

The girls' squad did get some good news earlier this week. The team may get senior guard Hannah Stucker back from injury this season.

Stucker tore her ACL during the powder puff football game and was thought to be out the whole season.

"We still have to clear some things, but she's been fitted for a brace, and she could be back by early February," Conder said. "That would be pretty late in the year, but it'd be great to have her defense, hustle and pure passion for the game out there for us."