Ducks dash T iger hopes
Rockdale had trouble carrying out the simplest of hardwood tasks Tuesday night and it probably cost them a long overdue spot in the state playoff bracket.
The uninspired Tigers allowed a rival to march into their gym and steal a must-win game, the culprits being the nothing-to-lose Taylor Ducks, who seized a 69-67 overtime victory.
“We lost because we didn’t rebound,” said Rockdale Coach Dusty Loewe. “They beat us on the boards. We also missed free throws throughout the whole game.”
Should the Tigers—16-14 overall and 4-6 in District 24-3A—finish in a tie for third place with Cameron and Madisonville, there would be a three-team tournament playoff for the third slot.
“Seems like we always have to do things the hard way,” said Loewe. “We’ve just got to win out and go from there.”
The Tigers host Cameron (21- 10, 5-5) Friday, then travel to Madisonville (16-10, 5-5) on Tuesday to close out what they hope will be just the regular season.
Rockdale lost to both teams in the first round of district play.
Cameron defeated lowly Caldwell Tuesday night, while Madisonville fell to frontrunner Navasota
No. 13 Navasota (18-4, 9-1) and No. 22 Bryan Rudder (19-7, 8-2) have already collected the top two playoff spots.
In front of the biggest home crowd of the year (including most of the Cameron basketball team), it was Taylor (13-18, 4-7) who came in with a sense of urgency and something to prove, despite having no playoff aspirations.
While he was not a factor in the Tigers’ 24-point win last month, senior point guard Mark Jackson got involved in Tuesday’s game early and frustrated the Tigers with his expedient moves to the basket to drop in 31 points.
The state champion tr iple jumper also led Taylor’s march to the free throw line, sinking 13-of-18 foul shots. As a team, the Ducks were 21-of-33 from the line.
In the last four minutes of regulation and the three-minute overtime, Taylor connected on 13-of-18 free throws.
Rockdale was 16-of-27 from the line for the evening.
While breaking loose for 46 points in the last meeting with the Ducks, Will McQuitter was limited to 27 points. McQuitter missed 18 shots, most from close range.
Behind four three-pointe Lance Loewe poured in 23 points.
Postman Justin Gadison gathered 12 rebounds, but the Tigers were badly outrebounded by the smaller Ducks, 40-25.
The lead changed hands 10 times, but when Taylor grabbed a 51-48 lead with 6:40 left in the game, the Tigers—who led by five to open the third quarter—never led again.
The Tigers had ample opportunity to take the game in overtime, but three straight turnovers erased any chances.
After Matt Gonzales drilled a three from the right corner to open the extra period for Taylor, McQuitter’s spin move pulled Rockdale within 64-63.
Three free throws from Gonzales and Jackson gave Taylor some separation at 67-63 before McQuitter took a pass from Joe Sanders to make the score 67- 65.
Two more free throws pushed the Ducks out front 69-65 and after Gadison missed two from the foul line, J.J. Lewis recorded a putback after two Tiger misses to close the gap to 69-67 with 22 seconds remaining to be played.
After Gonzales missed a pair of free throws, McQuitter misfired on two shots at the basket with six seconds left.
Rockdale fouled Lorenzo Sanford and he missed both his free throws with six seconds left, giving the Tigers a window of opportunity.
However they mishandled the ball twice and McQuitter’s heave from under the basket with 0.3 seconds left missed.
TIGER TRACKS— With 23 points Tuesday night, Loewe moved into fourth place on the Tigers all-time scoring list with 1,213 points, passing Vincent Banks (1978-80)... McQuitter needs just six points to become the first Tiger to go over 700 points in a season... Loewe needs 56 to surpass 500 points.
|Caldwell||38; Navasota||88, Madisonv|
|ille 5 9. R||udder i dle.|
|FG%: Peters||57, Gadison||55|
|FT%: Loewe||82, McQuitter||67|
|3PTS: Loewe||81, McQuitter 16|