PRINCETON — There wasn’t much slowing down the No. 1 ranked Rockridge Rockets Tuesday night at Prouty Gym. But Brenton Schmidt tried.
The PHS junior pointed out some dried blood on the jersey of Rockridge All-Stater Ethan Happ to the game officials, momentarily sending the 6-8 Rockets senior to the bench early in the second quarter. After a quick shirt change, Happ returned to battle to help the Rockets finish off a 68-31 win.
Schmidt just smiled when asked about his gamesmanship, noting Happ was not too happy about it.
Happ, who will play at the University of Wisconsin next year, scored 14 points, teaming up with the Rockets Bryan Heath, who tallied 28.
PHS coach Jesse Brandt sees no reason the Rockets, who are the top seed at the Kewanee 2A regional, can’t make a long postseason run.
“They’ve beaten everybody on their schedule so far,” he said. “They’ll face some tough teams. They might face Kewanee again at regional. Monmouth-Roseville is probably hoping they get a shot at them at sectional. They’ll be some tough competition. If they get to the super, you’re looking at Winnebago, Byron, Newman ... somebody like that waiting there.
“It’ll come down to that supporting cast. If they continue to play well they will be awfully tough to beat, because those two guys can turn it on more then in the two games we’ve played I’m sure.”
The Rockets made quick work, taking leads of 13-2 and 15-4 on the way to a 24-10 edge at the end of the first quarter. They outscored the Tigers 18-7 in the second quarter to put the game away at the half, leading 42-17.
“I thought we played hard. We battled, we just don’t have enough to compete with that,” Brandt said. “Our goal was to keep the rest of the guys to 10 points, You know Happ and Heath are going to get 20. If we can keep the rest of them to 10 points, that’s 50. I don’t know if we can score 50 against then.”
Brandt said the Tigers ran their offense pretty well and got a lot of shots, but managed to shoot just 25 percent.
“Part of that, we were worrying about Happ and Heath coming at you a lot, altering our shots,” he said. “We handled their pressure early. They tried trapping us and we did OK with that. We just can’t match up down low. When you do try to help out down there, Happ’s a very good passer and they’ve got some guys who can shoot the ball.
Senior J.J. Vaccaro led the Tiger (5-21) with 9 points on 4 off 11 shooting and junior Garrett Duffin added 7 on 3 of 11 shooting.
Tiger tales: PHS won the sophomore game 43-29 win to capture the TRAC South championship. … PHS senior poms Abby Bickett, Lindsay Hartwig, Megan Smith and Laura Behrends made their last dance at Prouty Gym. ... The Happ-Hildebrand families had a reunion with several members from Bureau County and Peru in attendance Tuesday. Ethan Happ is a first cousin to big leaguer J.A. Happ from St. Bede. ... The Tigers are idle until hosting a 2A regional next week, facing Prophetstown at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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