BY GREG FLINT
VEEDERSBURG, Ind. —
The Rockville boys’ basketball team came into their game at Fountain Central allowing their opponents to score an average of under 40 points per game.
The Rox kept their average intact as they defeated the Mustangs 55-37. Unlike many of the teams who face Rockville, Fountain Central came out with no fear in their eyes. Even after the Rox hit a jumper and a trey in the opening minute to go up 5-0, the Mustangs came right back to take the lead.
Ethan Woodrow got things going with a basket then Koby Pierce hit a three-pointer to tie things. Michael Duane made one of two free throws to put the Mustangs on top 6-5, their only lead of the game.
Rockville closed out the quarter on an 8-0 run to lead 13-6 going into the second period.
Duane cut into the margin when Lane Mahurin blocked his lay-up only to have it ruled as goal tending.
Rockville continued to increase their lead to as many as nine points early in the quarter, but Pierce hit another three to pull Fountain Central closer.
With 4:56 left in the half, Mahurin drew his third foul and headed to the bench with his team up 21-15. The Mustangs tried to take advantage of his absence in middle by trying to send the ball inside to Woodrow, but the Rox pressured the perimeter making that task difficult.
Fountain Central managed to cut the margin back to five, but Rockville stretched it back to seven, 27-20, at intermission.
“We learned last year to play without Lane [Mahurin] when he got hurt,” said Rox coach Dave Mahurin. “We’ve got confidence because we know we’re not a one-man team.”
Rockville opened the second half by upping their margin to ten in the first two minutes. At that point, Mahurin called a time out and put his team into a delay game.
“We were in foul trouble and we didn’t want to get into any more,” said Mahurin of the strategy. “Then when they had trouble defending it – it’s no fun to chase like that – we stayed with it.”
One possession lasted over two minutes and ended with two made free throws by the Rox. The delay game bothered the Mustangs according to their coach, Jason Good.
“We didn’t have enough patience on offense in the first half,” he explained. “Then in the second half, that delay made it worse because we hurried whenever we got the ball. We didn’t play our offense.”
When the third quarter ended, the Rox had kept the ball for over seven of the eight minutes, scoring fourteen points – many from the line as the Mustangs reached and grabbed on defense. Meanwhile, the hosts were able to score only seven – a trey from Sam Woodrow and two baskets by his brother, Ethan.
Things got no better for Fountain Central in the fourth quarter because they quickly put Rockville into the double bonus as their defense against the delay game led to more and more fouls. In one two-minute span, the Rox went to the line four times, making six of seven shots.
Ethan Woodrow snapped the string, but the lead by the visitors kept growing.
Late in the game, both coaches cleared their benches and the reserves from both teams played the final minutes.
“We’re tough to play,” said Mahurin. “We have good athletes who play good defense and we’re hard to scout offensively because we don’t run plays — we let the kids make reads on what their seeing.”
Good said he thought his team was still in the contest in the final minute of the third quarter, but then two turnovers allowed the Rox to up the score and stay in their delay game.
“We made mistakes and they hurt us,” Good said. “We’ll work on fixing what we did wrong early, but we don’t want to do what we did tonight.
“Our players wanted to trade punches with a heavyweight, but we’re not a heavyweight. This team [Rockville] is a lot like the teams we’ll face in the sectional, so we have to work on making our possessions better by then.”