Thursday, 13 February 2020 19:07

No. 1 Lady Rockets upset by No. 4 Carver in semis

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Rockingham's Keyoni Nichols (left) and Allie Rodgers (2) defend Carver's Morgan Thompson during Thursday's playoff game. Rockingham's Keyoni Nichols (left) and Allie Rodgers (2) defend Carver's Morgan Thompson during Thursday's playoff game. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — The No. 1 seeded Rockingham Middle School girls’ basketball team led Thursday’s semifinal playoff basketball game for the first 35 minutes against No. 4 Carver Middle School.

But a jumper by Emerie Snuggs at the 4:47 mark of the fourth quarter gave the Lady Eagles their first lead of the game. That started an 8-6 run down the final stretch that saw the visitors upset the Lady Rockets 39-38.

Rockingham and head coach Teresa Mason entered the game a perfect 9-0 on the season, and had won their previous 20 games dating back to the start of last season.

Carver’s Morgan Thompson, who led all scorers with 25 points, drained two free throws with 5.1 seconds left in the game to secure the win and send the Lady Eagles to the Southeastern Middle School Athletic Conference title game.

She also ended Rockingham’s hopes of repeating as the conference tournament champions.

Jamyia Lindsey, who finished with 19 points to lead Rockingham, gave the Lady Rockets a one-point lead following her final free throw of the night with 6.1 ticks on the board. 

But Thompson would put aside the loud atmosphere moments later to connect on the game-winning shots.

“We struggled and Carver played well, I can’t take it away from them,” Mason said following the game. “We didn’t have our best game today and this is when it counted the most. Our shots weren’t falling and we got in foul trouble, which definitely didn’t help.

“It’s hard to win a close game when you’re out of sync with four of your starters in foul trouble,” she added. “This was a tough game. I’m still proud of the girls, but I think they know they could have played better today.”

Lindsey scored 11 points in the first half, as she and teammate C’Niya Hinson both scored four points in the opening frame. Buckets from Keyoni Nichols and Allie Rodgers gave Rockingham a 12-4 lead after one.

Carver closed the gap to seven points before the half, keeping pace with Rockingham, although being outdone 11-9 in the second period. Thompson added four more points to bring her total to nine points at the break. Heading into the locker room, Rockingham held a 23-14 advantage.

An uncharacteristically low-scoring third quarter by the home team saw the Lady Rockets put up just three points. The Lady Eagles took advantage by going on an 11-3 run during the third to set up Snuggs’ shot to take the lead in the fourth.

Rockingham trailed by as many as five points in the fourth, 37-32, but Nichols and Lindsey battled back on a 5-0 run to tie the game with 52 seconds remaining.

 But Thompson took advantage of the foul shots in the closing seconds and the Lady Rockets turned over the ensuing inbound pass to end the game.

Hinson ended her season with five points, MaKailah Jackson and Nichols each had four points, while Rodgers and Jasmine Jennings both scored two points. Mason noted her team struggled at the free throw line, hitting just 6-of-14 from the stripe.

“You can’t win them all and we just have to learn from this loss,” Mason commented. “I hate it for our eighth graders -- this is their last memory on this court. That hurts me the most, but I also told them to not let this loss be in vain.

“Most of those girls will go off and continue to play (at Richmond),” she closed. “If this game makes them better, I’ll feel like we didn’t lose for no reason. I’m super proud of all of them.”

Carver will travel to No. 2 Sandy Grove Middle School for the SEMSAC championship next week. The Lady Panthers defeated No. 3 Hamlet Middle School on Thursday.

Last modified on Thursday, 13 February 2020 19:46

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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