Rockets rally past Simon Kenton in region opener

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Beach, Hicks win it for Shelby from line

By Todd Martin

Nigel Beach's two free throws with 18.7 seconds to play proved to be the difference Thursday night as the Shelby County Rockets topped Simon Kenton, 42-39, in the first round of the 8th Region Tournament at Henry County.


Beach's heroics came on the heels of Daryl Hicks' two free throws at 41.8 that tied the score at 39.


"Nigel came up big for us time and time again last season, and Daryl looked like he was very comfortable up there," SCHS Coach Mike Clark said. "They both stood up and hit two free throws like they'd been doing it all their life."


Beach said it was just like practice at the line.


"I was very confident," he said. "We practice free throws every day in practice, and Coach [Charlie] Matthews is always helping me with my form. I just concentrated on that, and it was fine - it worked out tonight."


The Rockets were forced to rally in the fourth quarter after a dismal third.


Shelby held Simon Kenton without a field goal for more than 13:30 through the first, second and early third quarters but never could pull away. The Rockets led, 22-13, at halftime and pushed that to 24-13 early in the third, but the Pioneers came roaring back with a 13-2 run and ended the third with a 28-27 lead.


Donovan Johnson's putback just 9 seconds into the fourth gave the Rockets' their last lead until Beach's free throws with less than 20 seconds to go.


Neither team shot the ball well, something Clark said he expected.


"In the first round of the region, teams typically don't shoot the ball well, and neither team did tonight," he said. "But I was extremely pleased with the way our ball club played defense and the effort we gave."


Clark noted the Rockets held Simon Kenton's Casey Sorrell to just five points, 19 below what he scored against the Rockets earlier this season and 10 below his average.


"The guys really understood the scouting report and played to it," Clark said. "Come the postseason, you have to win some ugly games, and that's exactly what we did tonight. The key is to hit your free throws late, get some stops and then go on and forget about it."


Henry County next


The Rockets will now face host Henry County in the semifinals on Monday at 8 p.m. The Wildcats topped South Oldham, 59-54, in Thursday's opening game.


"We're very excited to get a shot to play Henry County," Beach said. "We watched some of [the Henry/South Oldham] game, and they can play some ball. They beat a good South Oldham team that beat us earlier this year. Plus, I've never gotten to play Henry County before."


Monday's schedule will tip off at 6:30 p.m., when Owen County plays Anderson County.