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A fast start and a strong finish were the keys to victory Thursday night for the Rockwood Tigers as Paul Kamikawa’s squad claimed third place in the District 3-A Tournament with a 58-46 victory over Tellico Plains.
Rockwood came out on fire against the Bears. After a 2-2 tie to start the game, the Tigers ripped off 17 straight points in eventually taking a 19-6 lead after eight minutes of play.
Three-point plays played a big part in Rockwood’s early success. Austin Cooper and Hunter Grant each scored three points from beyond the arc while Jared Malicoat added three points the old-fashioned way in leading the Tigers to the big early lead.
Tellico Plains might have sleepwalked through the first quarter, but they were wide awake in the second quarter and would soon make things interesting. The Tigers held a double digit lead throughout much of the period, but the Bears ended the half on a 10-2 run to pull within 29-25 at halftime.
Rockwood used a balanced attack in the first half with eight different players scoring. Grant led the pack with seven points while Malcolm Springs added six.
There would be no big runs in the third quarter as both defenses took control. Rockwood, however, did win the period, 10-7, to take a 39-32 lead into the final period of play.
Rockwood put the game away quickly in the final period. Five different players scored in a 10-2 run to open the period that gave the Tigers a 49-34 lead with 4:17 left to play.
Tellico Plains wouldn’t get closer than 10 points down the stretch as Rockwood went on to the 12-point victory.
Nine different Tigers scored on the night with Springs (10 points), Grant (9 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) and Jay Tilley (8 points, 5 rebounds) leading the way.
Dakota Rhinehart (11 points, 5 rebounds) and Devin Collier (10 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals) paced the Bears.
Rockwood now moves on to the Region 2-A Tournament. The Tigers (19-8) will play at Wartburg (12-15) Saturday night at 7 p.m.
Rockwood swept Wartburg during the regular season, winning by five points at home and three at Wartburg.
Rockwood (58) Springs 10, Tilley 8, Grant 9, Breazeale 4, Miller 7, Neerman 6, Cooper 5, Gaus 6, Grant 3.