Despite their suspect league record, Loewe and the Tigers have hopes of making a serious playoff run due to the fact that three of their last four games are at Tiger Gym.
Step one was Tuesday night and Rockdale responded with a 00-00 victory over Caldwell.
The win—albeit against the last-place Hornets—was no less important as the Tigers improved to 16-13 on the season and 4-5 in district play
After an open date on Friday, Rockdale hosts Taylor on Tuesday, then Cameron on Friday Feb. 12 before travelling to Madisonville on Tuesday, Feb. 16 where they hope to close out the regular season—not the entire season.
As of right now, the Tigers trail Cameron and Madisonville—two teams they have lost to— for the third spot in the district standings by ?? games.
Although they did not shoot particularly well (39 percent from the floor, 53 percent from the free throw line), the Tigers took care of business against the outmanned Hornets (2-19, 0-7).
After speeding out to a 19- 6 lead in the first quarter, the Tigers allowed Caldwell just a pair of free throws in the second period as the Hornets got off just four shots and trailed 34-8 at the break.
Rockdale quickly expanded its lead to 30 points at the outset of the second half on a emphatic throw down by Will McQuitter after a steal to make it 40-10.
After an off night against Navasota the game before (10 points), the senior guard returned to true form with 25 points while also gobbling up seven rebounds.
Lance Loewe and Tyler Wright tacked on 10 points apiece while Loewe also turned in a trifecta of treys; three assists, three steals and three rebounds.
Nathan Rodriguez led Caldwell with 11 points.
The Rattlers came in to Tiger gym with a distinct depth advantage and it paid off with a convincing 75-47 win.
The league leaders and No. 13 ranked Navasota improved to 16-4 and 7-1.
“They are so much more physical and athletic than we are,” Loewe said. “And the game was called loosely and that’s to their advantage, we can’t compete with that.
The Rattlers, subbing three and four players at a time from a deep bench, marched out to a 32-13 lead with 3:35 left in the first half, before Rockdale mounted its only comeback attempt.
The Tigers reeled off 14 straight points to close out the first half led by Loewe’s pair of threepointers and Gadison’s put back, hook shot and bucket on an out of bounds play to slice the score to 32-27 at intermission and had momentum on their side.
They could not maintain the turnaround and after McQuitter’s drive to close the gap to 32-29 to open the second half, Navasota quickly returned to the doubledigit lead it had enjoyed earlier.
“I was proud of the way we fought in the second quarter,” Loewe said. “We played as a team and good things happened, we just couldn’t keep it up.”
Navasota looked inside in the second half as 6-foot-7 postman Aleon Calhoun—who just signed a football scholarship with Texas Tech—scored 11 of his 13 points in the half.
The Rattlers took the attitude of more shots, more points and fired up 30 three pointers while sinking nine.
Meanwhile the Tigers suffered one of their worst shooting nights of the year, making just 37 percent (17-of-46) of their shots from the floor and a woeful 41 percent (7-for-17) from the free throw line.
They also turned the ball over 25 times.
Loewe fueled Rockdale with 14 points (11 in the first half), adding five steals, four rebound and four assists.
Gad ison fol lowed w it h 13 points, while McQuitter was limited to 10 points (only two in the first half), 15 points under his average. He did grab eight rebounds.
Guard Jersey Gates led Navasota with 18 points.
Team District Overall
Navasota 8-1 17-4
Bryan Rudder 8-2 19-7
Madisonville 4-3 15-8
Cameron 4-4 20-9
Rockdale 4-5 16-13
Taylor 2-8 11-18
Caldwell 0-7 2-19
Tuesday results: Rockdale 60,
Caldwell 24; Rudder 64, Cameron
45; Navasota 73, Taylor 62.
Friday’s results: Navasota 75,
Rockdale 47; Cameron 74, Madisonville
69 (OT); Bryan Rudder 71,
Rockdale basketball coaches Dusty Loewe and Liz McQuitter will be hosting an Open House at the Tigers’ new gym on Tuesday, Feb 9 vs. Taylor.
“We want to connect the current athletes with their past, instill pride, and showcase our new facilities,” said McQuitter.
It will take place before the girls and boys sub-varsity games with half time recognition, trivia, and bonding.
“We are also asking for former coaches to attend,” McQuitter said.