Tigers two-game skid sets up playoff game
While the Tigers once had hopes of at least sharing the district crown with Navasota, they have stumbled, including Tuesday night, as Smithville jumped out early and then poured it on as Tiger opportunity slipped away at the end in a convincing 67-49 victory.
The outcome sets up a playoff game between the same two squads to determine playoff seeding, Friday at 7 p. m. in Giddings.
The Tigers stand 20-10 on the season and are tied with 19-10 Smithville at 7-3 in District 23- 3A.
The loser takes on No. 21 Sealy (20-4), the runner-up in District 24-3A. The winner plays third place Stafford (15-13).
Since the Tigers clinched a playoff berth Feb. 3 against Giddings, they have suffered two conseucitve losses by 18 points each.
In the first round of district play, Rockdale smothered Smithville 58-45 at Tiger Gym.
Tuesday night in front of a raucus home crowd, Smithville successfully dealt out payback.
The Tigers hassled Rockdale into shooting 36 percent from the floor and turning the ball over 18 times.
Rockdale also connected on just six-of-14 free throws.
With the score tied 27-all at the break, Smithville outscored Rockdale 40-22 in the second half and the Tigers went almost four minutes without scoring in the third quarter.
The Tigers also went without a field goal in the first 4 minutes, 45 seconds of the fourth quarter as Smithville constructed a 21-point cushion.
Freshman point guard Wendell Mitchell scraped together 12 points to lead Rockdale but struggled, making just threeof 14 shots. All three were from behind the arc.
The active Mitchell also pulled down four rebounds, picked off four steals and passed off for four assists.
Smithville’s 6-foot-5 postman Joe Crank had his way inside with 18 points (10 in the pivotal third quarter) and 15 rebounds.
Guard Peter Marek took care of the perimeter game with 14 points, including four threepointers.
Playing in front of one of the largest crowds in the new Tiger Gymnasium’s three-year history, the Tigers could not shake a case of nerves in a 62-44 loss to District 23-3A leader Navasota.
It was the Tigers’ first home loss since a set back to Taylor on Nov. 29.
Twenty-five turnovers plagued Rockdale against the lightningquick Rattlers which also neutralized Mitchell who was limited to seven points, which is eight under his average.
Cody Skubal and Zach Garza each accounted for 10 points, while Skubal speared 12 boards for his 14th double-double of the season.
Kadarius Baker pumped in 16 for Navasota.
Taking advantage of Rockdale’s early carelessness, the Rattlers leapt out to an 18-2 lead in the first quarter and opened up the second quarter with a 21-6 advantage.
The Tigers outscored Navasota 15-12 in the quarter and had closed it to 31-21 by halftime, but could get no closer.
After Garza’s three-pointer cut the Rattler lead to 46-36 to open the fourth quarter, Navasota outscored the Tigers 13-2 over the next six minutes to pull away.
Second place Sealy, 20-4 and ranked No. 21, is led by one of the top players in the country in 6- foot-6 junior Ricky Seals-Jones, who averages 33 points and 15 boards a game.
Third place Stafford, 15-13, is led by 6-foot-8 senior postman Jonathan Smith.
District 24- 3A champion Brookshire-Royal sports a balanced scoring attack and a front line that measures 6-6, 6-5, 6- 4.