After playing three rather forgettable quarters, Rocky Mount Academy’s quintet of seniors made sure the final period they played on their home court would be memorable.
The past two games, although victories for Rocky Mount Academy, hadn’t been exactly up to coach William Harrison’s standards. Nothing had changed through the first three quarters Tuesday against Faith Christian in the first round of the Eastern Plains Independent Conference Tournament.
In the final eight minutes, the Eagles held the Patriots to just two field goals – the first more than 6:30 into the quarter – and cruised to a 55-41 victory, the Eagles’ third win against their in-town rival.
“I’d love to end on that,” said Andrew Weatherly, one of the Eagles’ five seniors. “We pride ourselves on defense and our defensive schemes. We do things, and people are confused about them. We pride ourselves on that.”
No. 7 seed Faith Christian (12-16) needed a big fourth quarter to beat second-seeded Rocky Mount Academy (17-4) for the first time in three tries.
The Eagles made sure it was anything but.
“We just turned the ball over too much in the fourth,” Faith Christian coach Jon Denson said. “Well, we turned the ball over too much in the game. They were magnified in the fourth.”
Faith Christian scored its first basket of the fourth quarter with 1:26 to play when Dustin Hendricks, who led the Patriots with 14 points, knocked down a 3-pointer from the corner.
The Patriots had just two points up to that point and didn’t hit another basket until 1.7 seconds remained and Hendricks hit another 3.
By that time, the Rocky Mount Academy seniors, Weatherly, Adam Bayless, Will Fulcher, Dillon Crawford and McLean Warren, had all walked off the court to a standing ovation.
It just took a little while to reach that point.
“We haven’t been playing our best basketball lately, and that has worried me,” Harrison said. “We’ve won the past (three) games. It hasn’t looked good, but we won them. ... We just haven’t been playing good basketball, and it showed again (Tuesday).”
Fulcher finished with a team-high 14 points, and Bayless added 12. Crawford scored 11, and Weatherly grabbed a career-high six rebounds.
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or email@example.com