Thursday, 16 January 2020 21:53

Four Rockets notch double digits, hold off rally against Cordova

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Rockingham's Jada Zimmerman splits Jamison Jones (10) and Jamarion Wall for two of his game-high 19 points. Rockingham's Jada Zimmerman splits Jamison Jones (10) and Jamarion Wall for two of his game-high 19 points. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

CORDOVA — Cordova Middle School’s gymnasium was the spot where two of the three Richmond County middle school boys’ basketball teams were looking to improve on a 3-1 start to the season.

The Cavaliers hosted Rockingham Middle School on Thursday, and it was the visiting Rockets that came away with a 66-51 road win.

A strong first two and a half quarters by head coach Julius Bowden’s Rockets was almost undone late by the Jamarion Wall and the Cavs, but Rockingham held on. Leading the way for the Rockets was Jada Zimmerman, who netted a game-high 19 points.

Also adding double digits to the scoreboard for Rockingham were Paul McNeil with 13 points, Talan Stoner (12 points) and Jaziah Liles (11 points). Thirteen of Zimmerman’s points came in the first half, while Stoner came to life in the final two periods, netting all of his points in the second half.

Wall, who has eclipsed the 20-point scoring mark several times this season, led the Cavs on the scoresheet with 18 points. A slow first half saw him score just two points, before exploding for 16 points in the second half, including 10 points in the final stanza.

Two other Cavaliers chipped in high-scoring performances, seeing Jamison Jones add 13 points and Chris Grey notch 10 points.

“Our defense was pretty good and we denied Jamarion Wall the ball,” Bowden said after the game. “I told the guys if they were going to beat us, they had to beat us with their best player. James Eason, Bobby Little and Keyonta Davis did a great job denying the ball.

“We got a lot of transition baskets and some big turnovers,” he added. “It was a good, hard-fought game. They made a run at the end, and our ones went back in to secure the win.”

Zimmerman started the game with 10 points in the first quarter, using his height and some nifty passes from McNeil to put the ball into the basket. McNeil added five points of his own, and fed Liles for two baskets down low, as the Rockets jumped out to a 19-6 lead.

Grey, Jones and Davion Ingram would each net a field goal and spread Cordova’s six points over the first part of the opening 10 minutes.

Rockingham added 10 points in the second stanza, to Cordova’s six, and took a 29-12 lead into the locker room. Zimmerman and Little each splashed home a three-pointer and Liles connected on a field goal and a free throw.

Wall got on the board with a drive with 20 seconds left in the half, and combining for the four points prior were Jones and Isaiah Lockhart.

Jamarion Wall (15) slides past Paul McNeil for two of his 18 points.

The Rockets seemed to break the game open by starting the third quarter on a 19-4 run, building their lead to a game-high 32 points, 48-16. During that run, Stoner got on the board with six transition points, and Rockingham used baskets from McNeil, Eason and Zimmerman.

But after head coach Terrell Hollingsworth called a timeout with 5:39 to go in the third, Cordova started its comeback attempt. The Cavs would close the remainder of the game using a 35-18 scoring spurt, starting with a three-pointer from Wall.

At the end of the third, Cordova trailed 52-31 after Jones hit a triple just ahead of the buzzer.

The Cavs continued their fight in the fourth, closing the gap to just 12 points, 60-48, with 3:10 to go in the game. Wall’s 10 points were the most of any player, and it was a pair of free throws by him that saw Cordova get as close to the Rockets as they would.

Bowden called a timeout with 2:47 left in the game and the visitors ended the game on a 6-3 run to hold off Wall and company.

“Paul is the key of the offense and everything runs through him,” Bowden said of McNeil. “As far as penetrating and dishing the ball out, he’s got great court vision and is unselfish. A lot of times you see his points -- but he’s probably averaging close to double digits in assists and rebounds.

“Jada is very athletic and he used it to his advantage today,” he closed. “He had a lot of rebounds and easy putbacks, and some key blocks. It was an all-around team win.”

Rockingham improve to 4-1 on the year, while the Cavs dropped to 3-2. The Rockets will host rival Hamlet Middle School (4-1) on Tuesday, in what always promises to be a tough battle on the hardwood. 

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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