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The Shelby County boys’ basketball team captured its first district title since the high school split four years ago on Friday night.
That the Rockets did it against their crosstown-rival made it doubly sweet.
Host Shelby County beat Collins 65-53 in the 30th District Tournament final at Mike Casey Gymnasium. Not only was it the Rockets’ first district championship since the 2009-10 season, it was also their first-ever victory over the Titans.
Sophomore forward James Gordon scored a team-high 19 points and sophomore point guard Malik Manica tallied 17 for Shelby County (16-14), which won for the seventh time in its last eight games. Junior forward Keenan Cochran added 11 and senior Kipp Moore nine for the Rockets, who had lost their first 11 games against Collins by an average of 14.5 points (although the Titans had only beaten them by two points and one point in two meeting during the recently-completed regular season).
Shelby County outscored Collins 49-32 in the second half – including 34-20 in the fourth quarter – after trailing 21-16 at halftime.
Junior point guard Brent Kidwell scored a game-high 22 points and backcourt mate Deion Cochran added 19 for the Titans (24-4), who were the top seed in the tournament and the two-time defending district champ. Collins senior forward Ralphie Stone, the 8th Region Player of the Year, was held to a season-low five points. He made just one field goal – a first period 3-pointer – and was 2 for 4 from the free throw line. Stone left the game briefly early in the third quarter after taking a hard fall.
“For us to win a district championship is big, really big,” second-year Shelby County Coach Jason Couch said. “It’s big for the kids, the school and for our community.”
The Rockets and Titans both advance to next week’s 8th Region Tournament, which is slated to start Wednesday at Henry County. The draw for the tourney will be at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Anderson beats Shelby in girls’ final
The Shelby County girls’ basketball team put up a fight before eventually falling to Anderson County in the 30th District Tournament final, which preceded the boys’ game.
The Bearcats captured their sixth consecutive district title with a 57-35 triumph over the Rockets.
Anderson County senior forward Eriel McKee, a finalist for Miss Basketball, scored a game-high 33 points the Bearcats (24-4), who were third in the final Associated Press poll of the regular season.
Shelby County, which lost to Anderson County by 23 and 33 points in two regular-season meetings, made the third meeting closer, much closer than the final score might indicate.
The Rockets trailed by only three points after the first quarter, 10 at halftime and 12 at the end of three quarters before the Bearcats outscored Shelby 16-6 in the fourth period.
Junior forward Savannah Raizor and Mackenzie Raizor scored nine points apiece to lead the Rockets (18-9) while senior forward Nikki Simmons added eight.
Shelby County didn’t help its cause at the free throw line, going 7 for 16, but Anderson didn’t either, going 10 for 23.
The Rockets and Bearcats both advance to next week’s 8th Region Tournament, which is slated to start Monday at Grant County. Shelby County will play Gallatin County (19-7) at 8:30 p.m. Monday night. The Rockets beat the Wildcats 56-53 Dec. 14 thanks to Jordan Holt's 3-pointer at Mike Casey Gymnasium. If Monday's game is postponed Shelby and Gallatin will play Tuesday. If Tuesday's games are postponed too, then the Rockets will play at Gallatin County, the 31st District champ, Wednesday.