Lady Tigers sprint past Taylor in district opener
Such is the Rockdale Lady Tigers annual mantra heading into district play and they couldn’t have picked a better way to prove it than to bust out of the scoring doldrums.
In the District 18-3A opener, the Lady Tigers posted a season-high scoring total in a 66-46 trampling of Taylor Friday in the new Duck Gymnasium.
The victory is the first for the Lady Tigers in a district opener since the 2004-05 season.
Rockdale did fall to No. 1 Navasota Tuesday night at home 39-25 to slip to 8-13 overall and 1-1 in league play.
Everything fell into place against the 0-13 Ducks as freshman De’Jhoria Robertson stepped off the Lady Tiger bench and went wild, tossing in 19 points and grabbing an equal number of rebounds in just 13 minutes of play.
“De’Jhoria Robertson has been growing daily,” said Rockdale coach Liz Galloway-McQuitter. “ She had to catch up after missing two weeks with her ankle injury. De’Jhoria came off the bench and played one of the best games I have seen. I know her potential, and she played up to it.”
Of her 19 points, Robertson turned in a bookend effort—nine points in the first quarter and nine in the fourth and was 8-of-15 from the floor.
Rockdale also benefited from the longest stint of the season from sophomore Velma Mitchell, who logged a season-high 21 minutes and in turn dropped in a season-high 18 points, while also collecting 10 boards, three steals and three assists.
Lexi Robertson was also a force inside with eight points, while swatting away five shots
“It was a great effort from the girls,” said McQuitter. “I was very happy to see the entire group play with intensity and confidence. Everyone knows the setbacks this team has endured and it was very exciting to see them respond in this manner.”
On the strength of Robertson’s nine points, Rockdale rolled to a double-digit, 21-11 lead by the end of the first quarter.
A forgettable second quarter, which saw the Lady Tigers misfire on their first eight shot attempts and go 0-for-4 at the free throw line, was salvaged when Taylor failed to score and trailed 27-12 at intermission.
The Lady Ducks were 0-for-10 from the floor and 0-for-5 from the line in the quarter.
Rockdale maintained its 15-point cushion in the third quarter, 38-23, before a fourth quarter explosion.
The Lady Tigers—who got off 71 shots in the contest—outscored Taylor 28-3 in the final period as the Lady Ducks went 4 minutes, 33 seconds without scoring and did not record their first basket until there was 1:07 remaining to be played.
In the meantime, Rockdale connected on its first six shots to open up a 54-23 lead that stretched to 58-23 with 4:15 left.
During the 20-0 run, De’Jhoria Robertson and Pickett combined for 15 points with Mitchell chipping in five.
The bench was huge for the Lady Tigers, providing 33 points, 19 of course, coming from Robertson.
“Our bench had a big impact in building and maintaining our lead,” McQuitter said.
Of their total, 56 points came in the paint where they can use all the help they can get after 6-foot post and leading scorer and rebounder Shelby Evans left the team two weeks ago.
“In losing Shelby, we lost a great shot blocker, defender, and scorer,” McQuitter noted. “She was off to a fantastic start. We have to have several people step up and fill that void.
“Taylor Pickett and Samantha Muston have been giving us quality minutes and we also had the return of Lexi Robertson in time for the district opener and she made an impact. Each one of these post players brings something different to the table.”
The Lady Tigers faced the No. 1 team in the state in Navasota Tuesday and fell 39-25 at Tiger Gymnasium.
Mitchell was the only Lady Tiger in double figures with 11 points.
Shooting 30 percent from the field, Rockdale did not score until the 6:37 mark in the second quarter.
The Rattlers (28-1) led 29-7 entering the third quarter.