|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). Whiteman hit 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 assists.
December 28, 2019