The Rockridge Rockets claimed their fourth
Macomb-Western Holiday Tournament title in seven years, taking a
47-42 decision from the Farmington Farmers in the championship
Saturday night. Nate Henry, who scored a game-high 22 points in
the final, was named tournament MVP, also Rockridge’s fourth in
the same time span.
Having already upset the No. 1 seed, West
Hancock, earlier in the day, Farmington (11-3) came into the
title match with a seven-game winning streak. The fourth seeded
Farmers were aiming for their first tournament title in 22 years
against a third seeded Rockets (10-3) squad that had upset No. 2
seed A-Town in the semifinals.
Farmington recorded the game’s first four
points before Rockridge responded with 12 consecutive for a 12-4
lead. Jaden Rutledge’s three-point play late in the first
quarter pulled Farmington to within five before the frame ended
with the Rockets ahead 13-7. From there, neither side would be
able to gain firm control as the score fluctuated from a
six-point Rockridge lead to a two-point Farmington edge the rest
of the night.
The second quarter was a battle between
Corbin Rutledge of the Farmers and Henry for Rockridge. They
each tallied seven points to lead their teams. Rutledge combined
with Ben Martin to score eight consecutive points to give
Farmington an 18-16 lead, but Jensen Whiteman canned a
three-pointer on the final possession to put Rockridge ahead
24-21 at intermission.
The second half was an impressive
exhibition of determination for Farmington, which never regained
the lead, but also never fell behind by more than five points
until the waning moments. The Farmers pulled even for the final
time at 26-26 on a Martin free throw with 5:40 left in the third
quarter. After that, it seemed Whiteman was always there waiting
with a three-pointer to keep the Rockets safe. In fact, Whiteman
hit three triples in the second half, each time lifting the
Rockets to a four or five-point lead.
Blake Springer’s three-pointer early in the
fourth drew Farmington to within one only to see Whiteman
counter on the other end to make it 40-36 with just over six
minutes to play. Again later, Martin converted a three-point
play at the 2:19 mark to get the Farmers within two, but
Whiteman connected from deep on the next possession to push the
Rockridge lead to 45-40.
The Farmers lost some time running their
foul count up to the bonus, but they eventually had two
possessions to cut into their five-point deficit in the final
minute of play. Those possessions unfortunately ended in a
missed shot and turnover as their valiant comeback attempt
finally ran out of time.
Henry, who came into the game a perfect 21-for-21 at the line
in tournament play, surprisingly missed two of his eight free
throw attempts. That was about the only thing that went wrong as
he recorded game-highs in points (22) and rebounds (six).
four-of-eight from three-point range in route to 15 points along
with five assists. The Rockets out-shot all four of their
opponents in the tournament, including a 49 percent to 38
percent margin in the title game.
Jaden Rutledge and Ben Martin were named to the All-Tournament
team representing Farmington. Rutledge was hand-cuffed with foul
trouble, playing just 14 minutes, but still managed a team-high
11 points. Martin had eight points, four rebounds, and three