ROCKINGHAM – For the second time this season, Carver Middle School’s boys’ basketball team had a second-half lead over Rockingham – something none of the other eight conference members managed to do once.
However, Rockingham’s aggressive defensive play combined with an exceptional rebounding day from Cam’ron Coley and Andrae Streeter helped the Rockets pull away late to a 42-24 victory.
With the win, Rockingham improved to 10-0 on the season and advanced to the Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference (SEMSAC) tournament championship game scheduled for next Thursday, Feb. 16.
Coley (11) and Streeter (9) combined for 20 rebounds helping the Rockets score 18 points in putbacks with Carver only netting 4 second-chance points. The Rockets also connected on 9-of-12 free throw tries including going 5-1 in the final minute and a half to keep the Eagles at bay. Carver was 0-6 from the line.
Coley was responsible for lighting up the scoreboard first when he hauled in the rebound on a missed 3-pointer attempt by teammate Graham Odom and returned it to the hoop for two points just 30 seconds into the game. Moments later, Odom’s second trey attempt was true, putting the Rockets ahead by 5 early.
Carver responded with a 6-0 run with a pair of baskets from P.J. Williams and a putback from Nasiah McLean. Chance Crowder answered with a three-pointer to put the Rockets back in front at 8-6 with 4:33 left in the opening quarter.
McLean, who finished with a team-high 9 points for the Eagles, mirrored the long ball by Crowder with a trey of his own, resulting in the third lead change of the opening quarter. With just 35 seconds left on the clock, Streeter recorded one of his putbacks to give the Rockets a 10-9 lead at the end of the first period.
The two teams struggled to get off quality shots at the start of the second quarter as the strong defensive play continued. A floater from Williams ended a three-minute scoring drought and put the Eagles ahead once again at 11-10.
Nine seconds later, Crowder was true on his second three-pointer of the game and then 10 seconds after that, Carver’s Chase Sheppard floated a perfect shot over two Rocket defenders to knot the game up at 13-all with 6:31 on the clock.
Layups from Williams and Streeter bumped each team’s tally up by 2 and then a 3-pointer from Sheppard with 1:47 gave the Eagles an 18-15 lead with 1:47 left until halftime.
Crowder powered his way into the lane for late basket, but Carver took an 18-17 lead into the locker room.
Carver’s Jerrison Dixon extended the Eagles’ lead back to three with a jump shot to start the second half scoring. On Carver’s next possession, Coley rebounded an Eagle miss and pitched the ball out to B.J. Hinson who went coast-to-coast for an uncontested layup. A putback by C.J. Covington 20 seconds later put the Rockets back on top at 21-20 with 6:52 left in the third period.
Hinson added a free throw for Rockingham and moments later McLean stripped the ball away from the Rockets and delivered it to the basket to knot the game once again – this time at 22-22 with 4:45 on the clock. A Streeter free throw and a Crowder jump shot gave the Rockets a 25-22 advantage after the three complete.
After that it was all Rockingham as the Rockets outscored the Eagles 17-2 in the final 10 minutes with Rockingham’s first eight points coming from putbacks or free throw shots.
Twenty seconds into the fourth quarter, Coley rebounded a Crowder miss and laid the ball up onto the rim. The ball circled the hoop for several seconds before finally falling through. Nearly a minute later, Streeter hauled in an offensive rebound and returned it to put the home team up 29-22 with 8:45 remaining.
Hinson added a pair of free throws and Coley scored two more second-chance points giving the Rockets an 11-point lead with 5:15 left to play. McLean forced another Rocket turnover and turned it into two points bringing the deficit back to single digits.
Two big plays by Coley seemingly ended any hopes of a Carver comeback. With 4:17 on the clock, the Eagles converged on Crowder and lost Coley who was left alone. After a quick pass, Coley connected on a short jumper. On Carver’s ensuing possession, Coley swatted away a Carver shot attempt and then Streeter stole the inbound pass.
In the game’s final moments, Crowder scored on a layup and went 3-of-4 from the free throw line. Hinson also added two free throws rounding out the scoring.
Crowder scored a game-high 15 points for the Rockets in the win, Coley had 8, Streeter and Hinson each netted 7, Odom finished with 3, and Covington added 2.
McLean finished with 9 for the Eagles, Williams had 8, Sheppard netted 5, and Dixon scored 2.