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Rockets come up short again

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To little, to late with big fourth quarter

By Todd Martin

The Shelby County Rockets just can't get over the hump.

Shelby (7-11) rallied from a 10-point, fourth-quarter deficit and had a chance to win the game late, but came up short again in a 62-60 loss at Grant County (13-6) Tuesday.

The Braves were the eighth team this season to beat the Rockets by five points or fewer.

"We're disappointed with the outcome, and with the way we started," SCHS Coach Mike Clark said. "But we didn't quit when it got tough and we got down. We cut the lead in the fourth and had a couple of chances to take the lead with less than a minute to go."

Although the Rockets had a slow start, down, 45-35, after three quarters, they dominated the fourth.

"We gave up too many drives to the basket, and too many open looks from the perimeter," Clark said. "But in the second half, and especially in the fourth quarter, we looked much better."

Donovan Johnson led the charge in the fourth, scoring 10 of his game-high 16 points.

"Donovan really did a great job in the fourth," Clark said. "He was able to get into the lane and get some good looks and convert."

Johnson also recorded his fourth consecutive double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds.

"He's averaging nine rebounds and about 15 points for us," Clark said. "He's becoming the player we knew he could be."

Anthony Peyton also finished in double figures with 12 points.

The problem the Rockets have could be two-fold, Clark said.

"We've fallen victim to inexperience and, honestly, to lady luck," he said. "We've had an opportunity to win all but two games - Trinity and Eastern - that we've played this year. We've lost eight games by five or less points, and in each of those we've had possessions late in the game with a chance to take the lead. There have been about 10 or 15 possessions this year that have prevented us from being 15-3 instead of 7-11."

However, instead of getting worried with his team's struggles, Clark is positive the Rockets will continue to improve.

"We're disappointed with the outcomes we've had this month, but not with our team," he said. "I'd be really worried right now if we weren't getting better every game. We're very close to being able to beat a quality opponent on the road. It's going to come, and the guys are working hard and doing what we ask them at practice."

So just how close are the Rockets?

"When you have this many close losses, there are always just a few possessions that changed the game," Clark said. "This is where it hurts us not having a senior that's been through these troubles before. Our guys are learning, and I'm confident that they're going to advance mentally and physically to be able to handle these late-game situations in the near future, in February and into March."