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Hot-shooting Rockets roll

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They eclipse victory total for 2011-12 season

By Josh Cook

FRANKFORT – It may have been frigid outside Tuesday night, but it was quite the opposite inside for the Shelby County boys’ basketball team.

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The Rockets shot a sizzling 63.8 percent from the field – including 70 percent in the second half –to beat host Western Hills, 79-64, and eclipse their victory total of last season.

Shelby County (7-13) got off to good starts in each half, and received big contributions from senior Michael Barry (21 points) and freshman James Gordon (20 points), as the Rockets (a.k.a. the Road Warriors) won their sixth road game of the season.

“We really executed,” first-year Shelby County Coach Jason Couch said. “We had a lot of big games from a lot of people.”

With the temperature in the teens outside Lapsey Cardwell Gymnasium the Rockets got hot early, opening up a 17-6 lead on the Wolverines.

“I thought that was the best first four minutes of the game we’ve had in a while,” Couch said. “We turned them over a bunch and made them take some tough shots.…I thought that set the tone. It made Western Hills play from behind.”

The Wolverines (4-17) rallied to outscore Shelby County, 11-2, to end the first period, but the Rockets responded by outpointing them, 20-17, in the second quarter for a 39-32 lead at intermission.

Shelby County, which shot 59.3 percent (16-of-27) in the first half, received 11 points from both Barry and Gordon in the first 16 minutes.

The Rockets then opened the third quarter with a 12-5 surge. The 6-foot-5 Gordon scored eight (and he would’ve had 10 if Barry hadn’t been called for offensive goal-tending as he tried to dunk in one of Gordon’s shots on the rim) of those points, all in the paint.

“I’m proud of him,” Couch said of Gordon, who used his height advantage inside. “He was very assertive.”

Gordon’s turnaround put Shelby ahead, 51-37, with 4:18 to play in the period.

“We were passing the ball and we had a good flow to the offense,” Gordon said.  

Western Hills wouldn’t go away, though. The Wolverines cut the Rockets’ lead to nine (60-51) at the end of the third quarter and eight (67-59) with 2:38 to play before Shelby County finished the game with a 12-5 surge. 

“I’m pleased with the way we closed it out,” Couch said. “We didn’t close out the game very well at Henry County [the week before], but we did tonight.”

Gordon and Barry each went 9 for 12 from the field for Shelby County, which was 14 for 20 in the second half and finished 30 of 47.

Junior guard Kipp Moore added 12 points for the Rockets, who have won 10 games combined in their previous two seasons.

“We’re trying to win more than the last two years,” Gordon said. “This was another step for us. It was another win.”

It was also another victory away from home for Shelby County, which had played only five home games before Thursday night’s game against Kentucky Country Day. The Rockets, who were 1-4 at Mike Casey Gymnasium through Wednesday, continue their three-games-in-three-days stretch tonight, when they host Oldham County (14-7) at 7:30in their Homecoming.

They host Beechwood (5-12) at 8 p.m. Saturday in the final game of the Tom Creamer Classic.