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The SCHS boys’ basketball team showed focus and perseverance, not to mention a whole lot of skill, in beating Christian Academy and Trinity this past weekend.
The Rockets (3-0) held off Trinity (0-1), 57-56, on the road on Friday and then came home Saturday to coast past Christian Academy-Louisville (1-1), 79-63.
SCHS Coach Mike Clark said he was a little worried about fatigue in Saturday’s contest, the Rocket’s home opener.
“We were concerned about how the team would respond to back-to-back games, especially when you consider that Christian Academy didn’t play on Friday night like they were scheduled to,” he said.
The Crusaders’ game against DeSales was rescheduled because DeSales' football team was playing in the state championship in Bowling Green.
“But if you look at the numbers, we were ready,” Clark added.
Those numbers showed that four Rockets scored in double figures, with Donovan Johnson leading the way with a game-high 23 points and 12 rebounds, Darryl Hicks had 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, Boomer Beckley had 18 points and six assists, and Nigel Beach had 11 points and five rebounds.
Plus the Rockets saved their best for the fourth quarter, turning a seven-point lead into a 16-point rout with a dominating fourth quarter.
Their offense operated like a finely tuned machine Saturday. Shelby County committed just nine turnovers and shot 55 percent from 2-point range and 77 percent from the free-throw line.
Clark said the Rockets seem to be rounding into midseason form already.
“Right now, everybody in the rotation is making the necessary contributions for us to be a good ball club,” he said. “If you look at our top seven or eight [in the rotation], we’re off to an awful good start.”
Though he applauded his team’s work ethic and play this weekend, Clark did add that there are things to work on.
“I’m very pleased with our progress, but we have to continue to get better on defense,” he said. “We allowed too many open looks in both games, and we need to rebound better. If we can get better in those two aspects of the game, then we have a chance to be a really good team.”
SCHS 57, Trinity 56
The Rockets fell behind early, took over the game in the second quarter and held off a furious late rally by Trinity to win Friday.
After trailing by six in the first, the Rockets outscored Trinity, 21-8, in the second quarter, turning around the game and taking a 39-32 lead into the break.
Trinity kept chipping away at that margin through the third and fourth quarters, but a late basket from Johnson and two free throws by Beach – his only points – held off Trinity. The Rockets still need a defensive stand, holding Trinity scoreless over the final 40 seconds to persevere.
“The first stat that helped us win the game was the fact that we held them to just nine offensive rebounds, while we finished with 18 defensive rebounds,” Clark said.
Johnson led the way on the glass as well, recording yet another double-double, with 10 rebounds to go with his 20 points.
“The second big stat for us was that we shot 49 percent from 2-point range against a team that plays extremely tough, physical defense,” Clark said.
The Rockets also clamped down defensively on Trinity’s Taylor Epley. After Epley hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and one early in the second, Shelby County limited him to just one more through the rest of the game.
Shelby County also held All-State senior guard Josh Sewell to just eight points, after he got into foul trouble from trying to guard Johnson.