Rock Island stayed perfect and in pursuit of the Knoxville-Abingdon Tournament title by slowly beating down one of the best small schools around.|
The Rocks got a massive fourth quarter from super soph Mercedes Jackson to overcome Brimfield 62-57, and remain spotless with an 11-0 record.
Jackson had 7 of her team-high 9 rebounds and 8 points in the fourth quarter as Rocky came back from trailing the entire game.
The Indians (13-1) led from the tip, until the 6:14 mark in the fourth quarter when Shavonne Brewer tied it at 48 with a free throw. That was in the midst of a 20-6 run to start the fourth quarter.
It wasn't the offense that won the game though, it was the defense. Rocky got physical in the second half. After out rebounding the much smaller Indians 22-21, Rocky coach Thad Hoover made a point of telling his girls that's where the game would be won.
The Rocks (11-0) responded and beat Brimfield 22-12 on the boards in the second half. They also shut down a powerful Brimfield offense that shot 50 percent in the first half, limiting it to 31 percent in the second half.
"They're extremely well coached and had a good game plan tonight," Rocky coach Thad Hoover said of the 1A Indians. "They were more physical than us in the first half. Merecedes came back great in the last 5-6 minutes though."
Jackson provided the glass work, while Harmonee Trice provided the defense, locking down Brimfield's star, Hannah Wallace.
"We had to get on the boards," Trice said. "That's when we started to wear them down. At first we were focused on getting back on defense and weren't attacking the glass."
Wallace ended with a game-high 23 points, but made just one of her final eight shots.
Did the Indians simply run out of gas?
"Absolutely not," Brimfield coach Jim Blane said. "There were no surprises. We just had a couple minutes where we played to their tempo and when you play that way you're going to turn the ball over."
The Rocks will take their perfect record into Moline on Thursday with a chance to head in to the new year with a commanding 4-0 record in the Western Big 6.
They'll play for the Knoxville-Abingdon Tournament title on Saturday.
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