ROCK FALLS – There was plenty of fight by Rock Falls, just not enough offense.
The Rockets started strong, but stumbled down the stretch in a 49-40 Big Northern West loss Saturday night at Tabor Gym.
Rock Falls (5-13, 1-4) opened with an 11-5 burst that included 3-pointers from Jacob Mammosser, freshman Logan Pillars, and Aaron Frank.
"We jump-started real quick, and they had to call a quick timeout," said Mammosser, who scored a team-high 13 points. "Unfortunately, they switched to that [1-3-1] zone, and we just didn't have an answer. We couldn't penetrate. We just couldn't do it today."
Pillars made his third straight start.
"He's fearless. He's going to be a good player here for many years," Rockets coach Brad Bickett said of Pillars, who hit two 3-pointers for six points.
Byron (15-6, 4-2) scored the first seven points of the second quarter to take a 12-11 lead. The Rockets regained the lead on a field goal from Connor Cain. Then, moments later, a 3-pointer by James McFadden gave Rock Falls its last lead at 16-15 with 3:01 left in the first half.
The Tigers led 21-19 at the break.
Byron went up 35-29 on a 3-pointer with 54 seconds left in the third quarter from Austin McCarey, who came off the bench to score a game-high 16 points.
Rock Falls made it 35-31 heading to the fourth quarter, when Cory McCallister scored off a sensational save by Austin Donoho, who scored eight points.
With the ball heading out of bounds under Byron's basket, Donoho leaped and grabbed the ball, and scooped a behind-the-back pass to McCallister for the bucket.
The Rockets made it a two-point game, 35-33, on a rebound putback by Mammosser with 6:50 to play.
Byron responded to the threat with a 9-2 tear to go up 44-35 with 1:42 remaining. The Tigers took their largest lead at 48-38 with 29 seconds left.
"Our guys played hard; we played hard enough defensively," Bickett said. "The guys are working hard and committed to getting this straight. We'll get better if they keep this positive attitude and keep working hard."
Clayton Hoover scored 15 points, 12 in the second half, for Byron.
Byron 49, Rock Falls 40
Star of the game: Austin McCarey, Byron, game-high 16 points off bench
Key performers: Clayton Hoover, Byron, 15 points, 12 in 2nd half; Jacob Mammosser, Rock Falls, team-highs 13 points, 8 rebounds
Up next: Mendota at Rock Falls, 7:15 p.m. Saturday