- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Down 10 points with about three minutes to go, the Rockets looked sunk Tuesday at Madison Central.
But a furious Rockets' rally that culminated with Alex Matthews hitting a lay-in with two seconds to play left the game tied and the Rockets a new life in overtime.
But Madison Central (15-11, No. 14 in The Courier-Journal's Litkenhous rankings) outscored Shelby 13-7 in the extra session, sending the Rockets (17-8) home with a 77-71 loss.
"We scratched and clawed and did everything humanly possible to stay with a very, very good Madison Central team," SCHS head coach Mike Clark said. "The kids played as physical a game as they've played all year. I thought we did a good job on offense and defense against a top 10, top 15 ball club."
The fourth quarter saw several Rockets step to the forefront. Cache Tomlinson scored 12 of his team-high 17 in the fourth -- including two threes -- and Tim Sanford put up 10 of his 16 points in the fourth. However, that all set up Matthews for the final push.
Matthews took a pass the length of the court, slipped between two defenders and hit a lay-in to force OT, but from there it was all Madison Central. Shelby County hit just two field goals in overtime -- a three from Donovan Johnson and Coty Minnis had two -- and Matthews hit two free throws.
The Rockets led 16-11 after the first quarter and 31-29 at halftime, largely by shredding the Indian's full and three quarter court pressure.
"The biggest key in the first half was our play against their press," Clark said. "We didn't turn the ball over, and we got behind it for some easy shots. Offensively, we were playing very well. And we were able to get Aaron Morris in some foul trouble that forced him to sit."
However, Madison Central made adjustments at the half that led to a 10-point swing in the third quarter, as the Indians outscored Shelby 14-4 to take a 43-35 lead into the fourth.
"They called their press off and stiffened their halfcourt man-to-man and zone defenses and we had trouble adjusting," Clark said. "We missed some shots, and when you do that on the road, it gives your opponent a big advantage. Their crowd got back into it, and it took us quite a few trips to adjust."
But behind several big performances in the fourth, the Rockets rallied back, outscoring Madison Central 29-21.
The Indian's were led by Aaron Morris' game-high 36 points, including 12 of 18 from the free-throw line, and he pulled down 12 rebounds.
"He's got to be the most underrated player in the state," Clark said " at 6-7 he's highly skilled and athletic."
Despite the loss, Clark said he believes the Rockets are better after playing Madison Central.
"I don't believe in moral victories and I'm never pleased with a loss, but there are certain things we can take away from this game," he said. "I was very pleased with the fact that we made it a game after trailing by 10 points late, we played our hearts out for 36 minutes and we had a chance to win on the road against a highly ranked opponent. The next time we're in that kind of situation, I fully expect this team to win the game."
The Rockets will travel to St. Xavier tonight for the final regular season game. The two teams have played several close games in the past few seasons, and Clark fully expects another battle this year, despite the Tigers' 6-17 record.
"They've played a really tough schedule and they've played a lot of teams close," he said. "Plus, it's coach (Joe) Bergamini's final game after a long, long tenure at St. X. It's going to be a very emotional game for them, and I'm sure we're going to get their best. We will have to play well to get a win down there."
District Tournament tickets
Tickets for the championship game of the boys' and girls' 30th District Tournaments will be on sale at the participating schools. Each school in the title games will have an allotment of 500 tickets.
If the Lady Rockets and/or Rockets advance, Shelby County will sell tickets in the school's lobby. If the Lady Rockets advance, tickets will be on sale Wednesday, Thursday and Friday morning from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., or until sold out. If the Rockets advance, tickets will be on sale Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., or until sold out.