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After beginning the season with eight consecutive losses, and 10 in its first 11 games, the Shelby County boys’ basketball team reached a benchmark Monday night.
The Rockets’ 74-67 victory at Atherton, coupled with their 55-51 triumph over Henry County on Saturday, lifted them to the .500 mark for the first time since the season started.
Shelby County (13-13) has won four games in a row and 12 of its past 15.
Shelby County 69, Henry County 55
Big first and third periods propelled the Rockets past the Wildcats (17-8 after the loss) Saturday afternoon in a game that had been scheduled for Friday night but was rescheduled because of snow.
Junior forward Keenan Cochran scored a game-high 18 points, hitting six of eight shots from the field and six of six from the line.
“Keenan, was so efficient,” Couch said. “That was probably the most efficient game I’ve ever seen him play because he only took eight shots but scored eighteen points. I’m so proud of the way he played.”
Senior guard Kipp Moore added 16 points, and junior Kyler Dugle and sophomore James Gordon 12 each.
Gordon and Moore carried the load in the first quarter, scoring six points apiece, as the Rockets led, 12-6, after eight minutes. Shelby County, which led, 27-20, at halftime, then outscored Henry, 20-13, in the third, led by Cochran, who scored eight points in the period.
“We had a really, really good third quarter,” said Couch, who praised the play of sophomore point guard Malik Manica in that period. “Malik just did a great job. He set the tone on defense, and he made some nice passes.”
The Rockets shot 47.3 percent from the field and hit 16 of 21 from the free-throw line.
Shelby County 74, Atherton 67
Gordon scored a career-high 30 points for the Rockets, who outscored the host Rebels (6-15), 45-40, in the second half after the two were tied 29-all at halftime.
Gordon finished the game 11-for-24 from the field and 7-of-11 from the free-throw line. He scored seven points in the first quarter, eight in the second, eight in the third and seven in the fourth.
“We got off to a slow start but did a good job of grinding it out for the win,” Couch said. “James did a good job of getting to the free-throw line, and he started knocking down some shots. It's a real testament to our kids and their resolve to get to five hundred after starting one and ten. Now we just have to keep the momentum going for the postseason.”
Cochran added 13 points (11 in the second half), and Moore 11 for the Rockets, who shot 47.2 percent from the field and made 23 of 33 (70 percent) from the free-throw line.
The Rockets, who hosted DeSales on Tuesday night, close out their regular season at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gallatin County (13-9 heading into Monday’s game at Grant County) before hosting next week’s 30th District Tournament.