ROCK FALLS – Early on Thursday night, the Rockets Falls Rockets got a taste of the kind of team they could be this season against Stillman Valley at Tabor Gym.
But by the time the horn sounded to end the Rockets’ 39-35 win over the Cardinals, coach Craig Mammosser was left with a sour taste on his tongue.
“It was just disappointing,” Mammosser said. “We played very well and got up and let them back into it. We talked about the lack of practice, but tonight it was more about heart. It doesn’t take a lot of practice to play with heart. We have to find that if we want to be a good team.”
Rock Falls (1-2) started on a roll, scoring the first nine points in the opening 4 minutes of the game.
It started with a feed to Bailey Schrader, who finished smoothly around the basket. On the next possession, Morgan Mammosser stripped the ball away from a Stillman Valley guard and finished with a layup on the other end.
Schrader followed that with a free throw and two more buckets to put the Rockets up 9-0.
“It felt really good to start that way,” Schrader said. “I felt like we got ahead tonight and then let up a little bit. After that, there were a lot of ups and downs.
“I think once we play more together and start talking more, we’ll stop having so many downs.”
The downs didn’t come until the end of the second quarter, with the Rockets leading 23-11. Stillman Valley finished the quarter on a 5-0 run.
Neither team came out particularly strong in the third quarter. Stillman cut the lead to six points at 26-20 only for the Rockets to respond by scoring four straight points to get it back out to 10 points. They finished the quarter up 30-23.
The score remained like that for the first 3 minutes, 20 seconds. A 3-pointer by Kara Nehrkorn followed by a two-pointer by Schrader put Rock Falls firmly in control at 37-23.
“We got back up by 14 or 15 points there in the fourth quarter, and we’re looking sharp again,” Mammosser said. “Then that team went away, and let Stillman right back into it.”
Stillman scored 12 of the last 16 points to claw back into the game, but the Rockets’ lead was too much to overcome. Junior guard Markie Woodbright was pivotal scoring six points during the run. Woodbright finished with 10 points.
Jordan Gididngs had 11 points and 16 rebounds for the Rockets. Schrader finished with 12 points, and Morgan Mammosser had 10 points, eight rebounds, six steals and four assists.