Tigers grab second straight tourney championship
The Tigers continued their dominant play in unfamiliar territory by walking off with the Franklin Tournament championship— their second title trophy in as many weeks.
Rockdale polished off District 24-3A mate and state ranked Madisonville 67-42 in the tournament finals.
The Tigers defeated Bremond 74-37 in the first round and then host Franklin 68-39 in the second.
Seniors Lance Loewe and Will McQuitter were named to the alltournament team.
With a 64-27 v ictor y over Columbus Tuesday night in Tiger Gymnasium, the Tigers have reeled off 11 straight wins after falling in their season opener to Salado.
Rockdale—12-19 a year ago— has not produced a winning record or made a playoff appearance in basketball since 1997.
The Tigers average margin of victory in the early going has been 25 points, so naturally, Coach Dusty Loewe points to an improvement on defense as the reason for the resurgence.
“I think being focused on playing sound man to man defense is the main thing,” Loewe said. “Last year I think we could score against other teams but we couldn’t defend. We are spending more time in practice working on four-on-four shell defense and all the rules that apply.”
Rockdale was never challenged in its trio of games, winning by an average of 31 points.
McQuitter continued his steady scoring with outings of 32, 27 and 28. He also grabbed 21 rebounds.
Loewe continued his all-around exceptional play with 41 points, 17 assists and eight steals in the three games.
“We are by no means playing as good as we are capable of,” said Loewe. “We need to execute our set plays on offense much better than we are doing and we are still learning the difference between a good shot and a bad shot.”
In the championship game, the Tigers broke the game open in the third quarter by outscoring the Mustangs 19-7 after already leading 33-24 at halftime.
McQuitter notched 28 points, while postman Justin Gadison had 15 points and stacked up seven boards.
To reach the finals, Rockdale had to dispose of the hosts Franklin and did so with ease 68-39 as McQuitter produced 27 points, followed by Loewe and Tyler Wright with 12 apiece.
Loewe also dropped off seven assists and nabbed four steals.
In the Tigers’ 74-37 destruction of Bremond in the first round, McQuitter connected on 13-of-21 shots for a season-high 32 points and also recorded a double-double with 11 boards.
Loewe dropped in 17 on the strength of five three-pointers as Rockdale shot 58 percent from the floor.
“We need to be more multidimensional and not rely on Will and Lance to score all the time. When we get down the road, teams will take them out of our offense and we will need others to step up.”
The Tigers made it 6-for-6 for the year in their new gymnasium Tuesday night with a runaway 64- 27 victory over Columbus.
Rockdale had beaten Columbus earlier in the season 63-33 to ignite the current winning streak.
Scoring at will against a poor shooting team, the Tigers quickly built up a double digit lead, leading 37-11 at halftime and 51-17 after three periods.
Wr ig ht ’s l ay up w it h 5 :45 remaining to be played provided Rockdale with its biggest lead, 61- 19, before Loewe began clearing the bench.
McQuitter maneuvered inside for 19 points and seven rebounds, while Loewe delivered 11 points, seven assists and six steals.
Postman Justin Gadison swooped in for 14 points and seven rebounds.
Wright was also in double figures with 11 points and added four rebounds and four assists.
The Tigers passed off for 18 assists as a team Tuesday night
“I wasn’t pleased w ith the defense in the first three minutes, we’ve got to get after people no matter who we play,” Loewe said. “After some early problems, we played good team basketball, moving the ball around and the big men were finishing.”
TIGER TRACKS— With the addition of Rockdale at No. 18, there are now four District 24- 3A teams in the TABC Top 25. Surprising Bryan Rudder (5-2) is No. 10, Navasota (5-0) is No. 12 and Madisonville dropped down to No. 25.
|TIGERS SEASON STATS|