Rockets look for repeat against Spencer

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30th District tourney continues tonight, Friday

By Todd Martin

We saw the preview just 15 days ago, when Shelby whipped Spencer County, 65-49, on the road, and now the main attraction tips off tonight at 7:30 at Anderson County.

Shelby and Spencer will battle to see who will face host Anderson County in the championship game Friday at 7:30.

Though the Rockets seemed to coast through much of the second half of that victory on Feb. 10, SCHS Coach Mike Clark thinks focus will be the key tonight.

"We need to make sure we prepare for Spencer County and that the players come ready," he said. "If that's the case, we will be successful."

After a January swoon, the Rockets have exploded in February behind versatile junior forward Donovan Johnson.

He has improved from 16.2 points-per-game average to 19.7 this month, and he has averaged 22.8 in his past five games. He also leads the Rockets with 9.1 rebounds per game.

The individual numbers though are not what Johnson cares about.

"As long as we're winning, it doesn't matter if one person scores all the points, and I don't get any. Numbers aren't anything. As long as we're winning, I'm good to go," he said.

Clark said Johnson's hot streak is exactly what the Rockets need.

"If he can stay hot like this through March, then good things will happen," the coach said.

However, Johnson said it's not just him, but instead the team that has figured it out.

"We're just playing better as a team," he said. "Defenses are loosening up on me inside because Cache [Tomlinson] and Boomer [Beckley] are hitting shots outside. They can't double me in the post because of those guys."

Riding a six-game winning streak into the district has the Rockets' confidence as high as it has been all year. And after Friday's win over St. Xavier, the team is finally back to even on the season at 13-13.

"We played and beat some good teams this month," Johnson said. "I don't think we're going to see teams in the region as good as Madison Central. The way they press and as quick as they are, I think that helped us a lot."

Clark is confident that his team can continue the late-season hot streak, but they have to stay focused.

"[Spencer's] Logan Dunbar is an All-Region type of player, and we will have to contain him," Clark said. "And Trey Wyatt is a good player as well. We have to know where they both are on the floor.

"Offensively, we have to attack Spencer's zone with a purpose. If we get caught standing around and settling for jump shots, it could be a close game."

If the Rockets get past Spencer County tonight, they'll play host Anderson County (19-5) Friday. Anderson County slipped past the Rockets, 46-42, on Jan. 3 at home.

"I expect it would be another close, hard-fought game, if we meet again," Clark said. "Although neither team executed well in that January game, I would expect it to be better game.

"The key to slowing Anderson County down is C.J. Penny [22.8 ppg.] and Jacob Russell [15.6]. You have to slow them down to slow Anderson down."

Johnson, though, thinks the Rockets are ready for Spencer and whatever else is in front of them.

"I think we can run the district and the region," he said. "If we increase our level of play and keep getting better, I think we can keep this roll going."

Boys' 30th District Tournament

The Rockets play Spencer County tonight at 7:30. The championship game of the 30th District Tournament will be Friday at 7:30 p.m. All games will be played at Anderson County.