Rockets fall one game shy of finals

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By Scotty McDaniel

Playing in their third game at Rupp Arena in as many days, the Shelby County Rockets fell shy of making the state finals, losing to the Mason County Royals in a semi-finals matchup Saturday, 60-50, in the 2008 National City/KHSAA Boys' Sweet 16 tournament.

Against a favored Mason County team, the Rockets stayed close throughout the contest, holding the lead for most of the first quarter. Down only 22-19 at the half, the Rockets stayed right on the heels of the Royals until the final minute of the game.

Showing the heart that earned the Rockets two tournament wins, Shelby County guard Tim Sanford hit a three-pointer with 1:07 remaining in the fourth to keep the Rockets alive and bring them within three of the Royals.

"That's kind of been the staple of this ball club," Shelby County Head Coach Mike Clark said. "We have the heart and determination necessary to keep us in games and make comebacks when necessary."

But on the ensuing play, Mason County found a big play from University of Kentucky-bound forward Darius Miller.

Miller drove the ball in, drew a foul and drained a shot, completing the three-point play and ending any game-concluding run the Rockets had begun.

Miller, a frontrunner for Mr. Basketball, led the Royals with 19 points, four of which coming off of alley-oop dunks, and he snatched 10 rebounds for his team.

"Mason County has a fine ball club. Darius Miller is an outstanding player or he would not be coming to the University of Kentucky," Coach Clark said.

Rockets center Coty Minnis finished with 14 points and five rebounds, but an athletic Mason County defense didn't give a lot of open looks to the Rockets.

Shelby County managed to hit seven three-pointers in the contest to keep the contest close, but they also turned the ball over 17 times.

Mason County went on to win the state championship finals over Holmes Saturday night, 57-48.

"We're disappointed with the outcome of today's game, but we're extremely proud of our ball club and our accomplishments this season," Coach Clark said.

After a strong showing in the state tournament, Tim Sanford and Coty Minnis received the honors of being named to the 2008 Boys' Sweet Sixteen All-Tournament Team.