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Turnovers doom Rockets in opener

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Seneca press hassles boys in loss

By Todd Martin

Turning the ball over 25 times makes it tough to win on the road.

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Add to that Seneca’s relentless press and Shelby County’s poor shot selection, and you have a 67-66 victory by the Redhawks in SCHS's season opener.

Seneca took its first lead of the game, 30-28, with a drive and lay-in at the buzzer before halftime. After a seesaw third quarter, the Rockets again found themselves trailing by one, 51-50, going into the final quarter. That’s when the Redhawks' press really took over.

Seneca forced Shelby County turnovers on four of the Rockets' first six possessions and pushed the lead out to, 56-50, before Donovan Johnson scored the Rockets’ first points of the quarter.

Seneca’s lead grew to nine, 63-54, before the Rockets rallied behind three-pointers from Boomer Beckley and Cache Tomlinson cut the lead to one with 3.1 seconds left.

Shelby, however, couldn’t get a foul before the time ran out.

“We turned the ball over at an alarming rate in the second half, especially late in the third and into the fourth quarter,” SCHS Coach Mike Clark said. “We got some good looks, but I thought our shot selection, when we did beat their pressure, wasn’t very good. We rushed a lot of jump shots against their pressure.”

Clark said those two problems – turnovers and poor shot selection – along with missed free throws caused the loss. Shelby shot just 50 percent, 10-20, from the line, and missed four out of six free throws in the fourth quarter alone.

Clark said he expects the Rocket to improve on those miscues as the season goes on, and he even noted how much the guards improved during the game. Beckley, the starting point guard, had just one turnover in each half, and Tomlinson, the shooting guard, had just one in the second half.

“That’s something we’re going to continue to work on and something that we’re going to get better at as the season goes one,” he said. “Plus, you have to give Seneca a lot of credit for utilizing their team speed. We’re not going to see many, if any, teams that quick again this year.”

Beckley and Tomlinson led the Rockets with 16 points apiece, and Johnson chipped in with 14.

Clark was also quick to note that it was the first game of the season, and opening on the road is never easy.

“There were positives out there,” he said. “We competed with a good team on their floor, I was very pleased with our effort, and our guys never gave up late in the game. It’s always tough that first night out, so it’s good to get that game under your belt.

"If we cut down on our turnovers and get better with our shot selection, then we’ll be fine.”