ROCK FALLS – An early hole was too much for Rock Falls to dig out of.
The Rockets missed their first eight shots and fell behind by 13 points in the first quarter.
They whittled a 15-point deficit to five before IVC quickly regained control on the way to a 57-45 nonconference win Friday night at Tabor Gym.
Rock Falls (3-5) could not solve the Grey Ghosts’ three-quarter-court press into a 1-2-2 half-court zone.
IVC (6-2) took advantage, bolting to a 15-2 advantage in the opening 7 minutes.
“As poorly as we played early, it’s hard to come back,” Rock Falls coach Brad Bickett said. “You have to expend so much energy. We knew exactly what they were going to do. We just didn’t execute. We looked passive. We looked like deer in the headlights. This is not enjoyable right now.”
The Rockets’ lone first-quarter field goal – they were 1-for-9 in the period – was a 3-pointer by Cory McCallister, who was fouled and completed a four-point play to make it 15-6 with 30 seconds left in the quarter.
McCallister came off the bench to lead Rock Falls with 15 points, with seven coming in the second quarter. Daegan Wharff added 14 points, scoring eight in the fourth quarter. Austin Donoho contributed 11 points and team highs of seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
“Coming off the bench, I have to bring some momentum to the team to help keep everything going,” McCallister said.
“Cory’s been that guy all year long,” Bickett said. “He’s our sixth man, and he’s been our energy guy. You don’t question his passion. He brings it.”
McCallister helped the Rockets fight back from a 23-8 deficit with his big second quarter. He and Wharff hit buckets to finish the half, shaving the margin to 29-22.
“I wish the second quarter would have never ended,” Wharff said. “We had the momentum going into halftime.”
The momentum briefly spilled over into the second half, as McCallister hit a bucket but was unable to convert a three-point-play opportunity, making it 31-26 with 4:52 left in the third quarter.
IVC, which was led by Reilly Owens’ 20-point performance, responded to the threat. The Ghosts went on a 10-0 tear over the next 2½ minutes to make it 41-26 with 2:18 left in the quarter.
“In practice, we overcame their 1-2-2,” McCallister said. “We just couldn’t execute from practice over to the game. We couldn’t break their press, and had to play against their set-up defense, which didn’t go our way.”
The Ghosts went up by 16 three times in the final moments of the third quarter and early moments of the fourth quarter. It was their largest lead of the night.
Rock Falls got within 10 – 51-41 – when Connor Cain drove for a bucket with 4:21 to play. The Rockets would get no closer.