GUARANTEED!

Tigers 16th victory secures first winning season since 1997
BY BILL MARTIN
Reporter Sports Editor


Rockdale’s Zach Garza floats in mid air to wrap a pass around Caldwell postman Zach Aldridge in the Tigers’ landmark win over the Hornets Friday night in Tiger Gym to push them to 3-0 in district. 
Reporter/Bill Martin Rockdale’s Zach Garza floats in mid air to wrap a pass around Caldwell postman Zach Aldridge in the Tigers’ landmark win over the Hornets Friday night in Tiger Gym to push them to 3-0 in district. Reporter/Bill Martin Before the season began, Dusty Loewe made his charges take a tour of the old RHS gym and take in all the championship banners hanging from the rafters.

“ They know we haven’t had a winning season in a while,” Loewe said.

The chances for this contemporary group to join their storied forefathers gathered some steam Friday night.

The Tigers’ 55-46 victory over Caldwell on the evening secures the first winning season for the Rockdale basketball program since 1997, also, the last time a team has made a playoff appearance.

The 16 wins also equals the most victories during that 15- year span.

“It’s exciting for the kids to know that they have done something to bring Rockdale basketball back,” Loewe said. “Now, we can work towards the playoffs.”


James David breaks free through the lane for a basket in the fourth quarter in the Tigers’ victory. 
Reporter/Cliff Dungan James David breaks free through the lane for a basket in the fourth quarter in the Tigers’ victory. Reporter/Cliff Dungan While it is still early in the process, the Tigers are off to a flying start, having won nine straight games and 12 of their last 13.

The w in streak c ame to a close Tuesday night however, after dropping a 69-65 thriller to league-leader Navasota on the road (see below).

The Tigers stand 16-8 on the season and 3-1 in District 23- 3A.

Despite the important victory over 8-8 Caldwell, Rockdale rebounded poorly and there were defensive lapses that allowed the Hornets to hang around.

“ This is the worst we have played in a month,” Loewe said of Friday night’s victory. “For one thing, Caldwell played hard. We did a poor job blocking out and rebounding and we still need some work on our half-court trap and defensively we gave up some things we don’t normally do.

“But, still we were up by 14 at one point, we were still playing hard, I saw us diving for balls.”

Rockdale certainly did not aid the inspired Hornets, turning the ball over just five times and only once in the second half.

Another factor was an injury to freshman point guard and leading scorer Wendell Mitchell, who jammed his right ring finger and had it up.

“He’s really hurting,” Loewe said.

Mitchell—the Tigers’ leading scorer with a 16-point average— was held to 11 points on three-for 12 shooting and 0-for-4 from three point range before fouling out late in the fourth quarter.

Harvesting most of his points by taking the baseline route to the hole, William Dean turned in a season-high 16 points to lead Rockdale.

Cody Skubal was limited to six points (six below his average), but still collected 11 rebounds, his 14th double-digit effort in the category on the season.

The 6-foot-3 senior also dished off four assists and blocked two shots.

Guard Bryston Burns sparked Caldwell with 12 points, while 6- foot-5 Zach Aldridge supplied 10 points and controlled the boards with 15 rebounds.

Leading 12-10 after the first quarter, the Tigers constructed some separation in the second, going on a 15-4 run behind Dean’s three baskets to end the quarter with a 29-17 lead at the break.

The Hor nets could not be smoked out however and after a Zach Garza layup sandwiched in between two James David buckets provided Rockdale with its largest lead of the evening, 37-23 Caldwell pulled to within eight on three separate occasions and trailed just 42-34 after three.

The Hornets began to chop away at the lead at the outset of the final period and after Burns nailed a three-pointer from the left corner and then a coastto coast lay up, Caldwell had trimmed the Tigers lead to 42- 39 with 7 minutes, 29 seconds remaining to be played.

After a timeout, the Tigers regrouped and held the Hornets without a field goal for the next 6:40 while they re-constructed their double digit lead, 51-40, on baskets by Garza and David and free throws from Dean and Mitchell.

Navasota

All streaks came to a halt Tuesday night with a last-second 69- 65 loss to the defending district champion Rattlers on the road, their first setback since Dec. 16.

Trailing 65-54 with 20 seconds remaining, Skubal stole the ball and gets fouled on a missed layup and sinks one-of-two to tie the game at 65.

On the ensuing tr ip dow n court, Solomon McGinty corralled a missed Rattler shot and sticks it back with two seconds left for the victory.

The Rattlers (15-9, 4-0) scored again after a Rockdale timeout and threw a full court pass out of bounds.

The Tigers missed 5-of-6 free throws in the last two minutes of the game.

Skubal busted out a game-high 22 points and took 12 rebounds for his 12th double-double of the season.

He also posted three assists and two steals.

Mitchell returned to form with 16 points.

McGinty led Navasota with 26 points.

The Tigers close out the first round of district play hosting Smithville Friday.

DISTRICT 23-3A

BOYS
Team District Overall
Navasota 4- 0 15-9
Rockdale 3-1 16-8
Smithville 2-1 14-8
Giddings 0-3 7-10
LaGrange 0-3 7-10
Caldwell 0-3 7-8
Tuesday results: Navasota 69,
Rockdale 65;
Friday’s results: Rockdale 55,
Caldwell 46; Navasota 73, Giddings
41;

TIGERS SEASON STATS

Player Games PTS AVG
Mitchell 24 368 16.0
Skubal 24 266 11.8
Dean 24 182 7.9
David, J. 22 145 6.9
Garza 24 130 5.7
Loth 19 75 3.9
Ford 18 57 3.2
Quinney 19 55 2.9
Trujillio 20 18 0.9
Hamilton 17 14 0.8
Team Leaders
Rebounds: Skubal 9.3, David 5.4
Assists: Mitchell 2.8, Dean 2.3
FG%: Ford 59, David 53
FT%: Mitchell 81, Garza 75
3PTS: Mitchell 41, Garza 16
Steals: Mitchell 41, David 31

LONG TIME COMING

Here’s a look at Rockdale’s yearby year record since its last winning season in 1997:

YEAR COACH RECORD
2012 Dusty Loewe 16-8
2011 Dusty Loewe 9-16
2010 Dusty Loewe 16-16
2009 Dusty Loewe 12-19
2008 Dusty Loewe 11-19
2007 Slade Young 13-15
2006 James Johnson 16-16
2005 James Johnson 10-18
2004 James Johnson 4-26
2003 Greg Kopetsky 11-17
2002 Greg Kopetsky 11-20
2001 Greg Kopetsky 13-13
2000 Greg Kopetsky 8-20
1999 Mike Hill 4-24
1998 Mike Hill 8-18
1997 Dean Hollingsworth* 25-9


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