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Rockets just miss against a top team

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Rebels hold on after 3rd quarter

By Josh Cook

The Shelby County girls’ basketball team hung with – but ultimately couldn’t overcome – Owen County on Tuesday night.

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The Rockets led the Rebels, 8th Region Tournament semifinalists last season, by four points at halftime before the visitors rallied for a 45-43 victory at Mike Casey Gymnasium.

Owen County outscored Shelby County, 20-10, in the game-deciding third quarter.

“We did have a bit of a letdown to start the third quarter, and they capitalized on it,” Rockets Coach Mike Sowers said.

Shelby County, which returned four starters and most of its scoring and rebounding from a team that improved by 13 victories last season (finishing 16-9), was up, 11-8, after 8 minutes against the Rebels, who returned their Nos. 2-6 leading scorers from a 24-7 squad.

“We came out of the gate playing well, and the girls stayed in it for the night,” Sowers said.

The Rockets led, 21-17, at intermission behind seven points from sophomore forward Mackenzie Raizor.

Then came the third quarter, when Owen County senior guard Hannah Neeley tallied 13 of her game-high 17 points. Neeley, the Rebels’ top returning scorer (12.7 points per game last season), hit a trio of 3-pointers and a pair of 2-pointers in the period.

Trailing by six entering the fourth quarter, Shelby County rallied to trail by 44-43, but the Rockets missed the potential-game-tying free throw then fouled. Owen County hit one of two free throws to give Shelby County one last chance to tie the score with a 2-pointer or win it with a 3-pointer.

“We had a decent look at the end, [but it] was partially deflected,” Sowers said.

“We were very pleased with the team effort but disappointed by the outcome,” Sowers said. “We feel like we let one slip by against one of the region’s better teams. Hats off to them for surviving an early scare."

Raizor paced the Rockets with 12 points. Freshman forward Justus Martin and junior forward Nikki Simmons tallied 10 points apiece (Simmons’ contribution came off the bench).

“We did the things we needed to do to be in the game – defended well in the half court, limited free looks, didn’t give up many layups, and made them work for what they got,” Sowers said. “We also pounded it in to our big girls with three of them scoring double figures.

“[It’s] definitely something for us to build on and was a good one for the fans to watch this early in the year.”

Shelby County will try to bounce back tonight, when it plays at Henry Clay. Tip-off is slated for 7:30.