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RMS caps perfect season with TMSAA title

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By Goose Lindsay

The Rockwood Middle School Tigers put the finishing touches on a perfect season over the weekend as Bryan Powers' squad knocked off Sullivan North Friday night and Holston Saturday afternoon to capture the TMSAA East Tennessee State Sectional Championship.

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With the semifinal and championship victories, Rockwood finishes the season with a 21-0 record.

Sullivan North vs. 

Rockwood

People have wondered what would happen all year if the Tigers couldn't get out and run and were forced to play a half court game. That question was answered Friday night as the Tigers used a smothering defense to pick up a 21-19 victory over the Area 1champion Raiders.

Friday's game was nothing more than a defensive battle from the start as Rockwood trailed 5-2 after one period of play. 

The second period was also a struggle offensively for the green and gold as the Tigers scored just three points in the frame. Luckily for Rockwood, their defense was also building a wall around the basket as Sullivan North led just 10-5 at halftime.

With their offensive struggling for points, Rockwood called on its defense in the third quarter and Powers' squad responded with a shutout in the frame. Rockwood's offense still struggled, but the six points they scored in the period was enough to give Rockwood an 11-10 lead with six minutes left to play.

The fourth period opened with Sullivan North's Hunter Jones burying a triple to give the Raiders a 13-11 lead, but tournament MVP Case Miller would score back-to-back baskets as part of a 5-0 run that gave the Tigers a 16-13 lead with 2:53 left to play.

Jones hit another triple with 1:05 left to play to tie the score at 16, but the final minute would belong to the Tigers.

With 44 seconds to play, Colby Turner hit two free throws then Colyer Hicks hit two more from the charity stripe to give the Tigers a 20-16 lead.

Sullivan North, however, didn't go away quietly as Jacob Jasper buried a three-pointer with 20 seconds left to pull the Raiders to within 20-19.

After a free throw from Hicks with 15.1 seconds left, Sullivan North would get three shots off with a chance to tie or win the game, but none of the shots would fall as Rockwood advanced to the title game in thrilling fashion.

Miller led Rockwood on the night with eight points, four rebounds and three steals while Hicks added seven points, six rebounds and four steals.

Jones led the Raiders with a game-high 11 points.

Rockwood (21) Turner 2, Hicks 7, Inman 1, Miller 8, Neerman 3.

Holston vs. Rockwood

Saturday's title game was another defensive battle, but the Tigers defense was again up to the task as Rockwood knocked off Holston, 31-24.

Unlike Friday, the Tigers didn't get off to a slow start as Rockwood led 10-4 after one period of play. 

Holston figured out Rockwood's defense in the second period and opened the frame with a 13-6 run to briefly take a 17-16 lead. Rockwood, however, got a late basket from Drake Long to take an 18-17 lead at halftime.

Long led Rockwood in the first half with seven points while Turner added six.

Defense was again the name of the game in the third quarter as the teams combined for just 10 points with the Tigers holding a 24-21 lead with six minutes left to play.

Rockwood was still holding that three-point lead, 26-23, midway through the final period when Miller made a pair of big plays. The first was a three-point basket that made the score 29-23 then Miller assisted on a Turner basket as Rockwood took what would be a commanding 31-23 lead.

Holston managed just one free throw down the stretch as Rockwood finished off the perfect season.

Turner led Rockwood on the afternoon with 12 points and 11 rebounds while Long added nine points and six boards.

 Rockwood (31) Long 9, Hicks 4, Turner 12, Miller 5, Neerman 1.