Rockets blast Bombers

Shelby Burget

Rockridge girls' basketball coach Shawn Strachan was hoping that history would not repeat itself at the start of Monday, Jan. 26’s Olympic Conference contest against Macomb at Washington Street Gym.

Facing the Lady Bombers three days earlier, Macomb jumped out to a 14-7 lead and maintained the advantage until the final quarter. That’s when Rockridge used a 13-2 spurt to rally for a 49-41 victory.

On Monday, the Lady Rockets picked up where they left off, jumping out to a 13-2 lead in the opening period and never looking back. The end result was a 52-37 victory that gave Rockridge its third win over Macomb in as many tries on the season.

Rockridge improved to 15-7 overall, 6-3 in league play. Macomb slipped to 6-20 overall, 1-7 in conference play.

Each team managed just one basket in the opening three minutes, but Rockridge scored the final 11 points of the quarter as MHS missed its final six shots and had two turnovers.

“I thought we did a much better job with our defensive pressure,” said Strachan. “We changed up a little bit defensively. We backed off that full court press and made it more of a three-quarter and half court. That caused them some problems.”

“We actually shot the ball quite a bit better than we did on Friday,” he added.

Besides the quick start, rebounding played a huge role. Rockridge would finish with a 43-24 advantage for the game, recording 21 offensive rebounds.

“They were a little bit quicker than us to the ball, especially the loose balls in the first half,” said Macomb High head coach Jeff Thorman, whose team wrapped up a stretch that included eight games in 10 days. “I thought the schedule from the last couple of weeks finally took its toll (this game). To play Rockridge twice in four days, they’re extremely quick.”

Macomb also lost Ashton Day to a right ankle injury in the final two minutes of the opening half. The junior was inadvertently stepped on by teammate Cassie Combs, twisting her ankle in the process. She would be carried on the floor and spent the second half on the Macomb bench, an ice pack on her foot, which was propped up on a chair.

“When you lose a player like Ashton, it hurts,” said Thorman. “We’re a lot better team with her in the rotation.”

After the initial run, Macomb was never able to find its rhythm as Rockridge maintained a double digit the lead the rest of the way.

“They were aggressive and we didn’t respond to it very well, especially early in the game,” said Thorman.

No player from either team finished in double figures scoring-wise. Haley Kitchell led Rockridge with nine points. Jen Krueger and Hillary Johnson recorded nine and eight rebounds respectively.

Sandy Moore led MHS with nine points, while Combs added seven. Jessica Adkisson added six points, while Cherish Ford and Jaccy Billeter finished with five rebounds each.

“We didn’t let Moore and Adkisson get into a flow on offense,” said Strachan. “We tried to focus on those two girls especially. If we were going to get beat, it was going to be by somebody other than those two girls. I thought our girls responded well.”

 “I thought our kids played hard and gave it their all to the end,” said Thorman. “That’s all you can ask out of them.”

The Lady Bombers have two days off before Thursday’s league re-match against Monmouth-Roseville. The break is just what the teams needs according to Thorman, whose squad has four games in the remainder of the regular season.

“We played five games in a row without a practice. That makes it tough to make any adjustments,” said Thorman. “We’ve got a little time to catch our breath now and make a good run here in the last four games. Hopefully, that will give us a little bit of spring heading into the regional.”

The fresh-soph game saw Macomb post a 47-42 victory, making amends for a 39-37 victory by Rockridge in the first meeting.

Macomb trailed 19-18 at half, but out-scored the visitors in each of the final two periods to pull out the win, improving to 10-9 overall, 5-3 in league play.

Kali Thompson and Lexa Mahr paced MHS with 13 and 11 points respectively, while Emily Watkins led Rockridge with 11 points.