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Shelby County’s boys basketball team blasted off like, well, a Rocket in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, rallying to beat host Richmond Model, 79-68.
The Rockets scored 27 points in those final 8 minutes to win going away after trailing by 14 (44-30) at halftime for their most impressive victory of the season.
Shelby County (2-6) trailed by 16 after Model scored to pen the second half and ran off the next 12 points to jump start its big burst, trimming the Patriots’ lead to 54-52 heading into the fourth quarter.
The difference was a change in defense, better teamwork and much more aggressive play by 6-foot-4 freshman James Gordon, who hit 10 of 12 field-goal attempts and scored 16 of his 20 points after halftime, including eight in the fourth quarter. He also had 10 rebounds.
“Just like the Anderson game [when SCHS rallied to win], I thought we didn’t play very well in the first half,” SCHS Coach Jason Couch said. “We switched defenses, playing our man-to-man, full-court press a little more, and the kids responded by turning Model over, speeding them up.”
And then there was the change with Gordon.
“In the first half I didn’t think James asserted like he should have,” Couch said. “At halftime, let’s just say he and I had a little talk. If he played like he did in the half every night, we have a chance to compete. I know he’s a freshman, but he needs to play big.”
The new aggressiveness led to a lot of easier shots, and the Rockets made 30 of 46 from the field (65.2 percent).
Gordon got good support from senior Michael Barry – 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting – and freshman Malik Manica, who had 12 (hitting 4 of 6).
“We did a great job of passing,” Couch said. “Unofficially, we had twenty-three assists. We moved the ball around. The kids are starting to understand that you can take an open shot or a good shot but there might be a better shot for your teammate. We sacrificd and shot a high percentage.”
Couch praised the play of Manica, who he said did a great job of running the point and getting the ball into the right hands. Manica had six assists, as did Keenan Cochran.
Model (5-2) had dominated early, taking leads of 11-2 and 22-8 before Shelby County got within reach at 25-16 after the first quarter. But then Model rebuilt that advantage to 14 at intermission.
Brendan Hill had a team-high 15 points for Model, and A.J. Hammons added 14, Jesse Middleton 12 and Jon Ballard 11.
The Patriots had 11 fewer field goals but five more free throws than the Rockets.
Shelby County visits Franklin County at 7:30 tonight.