By David Rogers. January 9, 2020. VILAS, NC — If anyone in the Cove Creek gym thought that Blowing Rock’s 20-14 halftime advantage was “close,” a 13-point scoring outburst by Blowing Rock guard Bennett Brown in the third quarter took care of that.
COVER IMAGE: Blowing Rock’s Bennett Brown goes up and in for two of his game-high 16 points against Cove Creek. Photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
With just two more games to play in the regular season after the Rockets blazed past the Raiders, 49-29, the undefeated Blowing Rock boys basketball team sits in the catbird’s seat heading down the stretch toward the league tournament.
Brown finished with a game-high 16 points and star playmaker Wyatt Kohout added 12 to lead all scorers. Cove Creek’s Troy Wilson was 3-for-3 from beyond the arc to record a team-high nine points.
With the win, Blowing Rock moves to 12-0 on the season. At 5-7, Cove Creek is locked in a tie with Green Valley for 5th place.
Although Blowing Rock was sloppy in the early going, even allowing the Raiders to get on the board first, it did not take long for the Rockets to establish the same kind of dominance they have shown throughout the season in the Watauga middle school basketball league, against all comers.
Leading 11-3 at the end of the first quarter and 20-14, at intermission, Brown and Kohout combined for 18 of the Rockets’ 20 third quarter points, while the visitors’ punishing full court press defense limited Cove Creek to just five points in the period. Going into the final period with a comfortable, 40-19 lead, Rockets head coach Todd Hartley provided his younger players ample time on the court to hone their skills and show their stuff.
And good stuff it was, too. Against alternating platoons of Cove Creek players, the Blowing Rock hoopsters managed nine points in the final stanza against the Raiders 10.
Four things impressed this reporter about Blowing Rock’s performance on the night:
- Quick transitions: upon collecting a defensive rebound, there was little or no hesitation by every Rocket player coming down with the ball. By the time their feet hit the floor, they were turning for an outlet pass to start a break down the floor — and their recipients were in position to get the ball down court.
- Full court defense: Blowing Rock’s roster features among the tallest and most athletic players to perhaps ever play on the same Watauga middle school team, but head coach Todd Hartley uses whichever players are on the court at any given time to great advantage, defensively. The pressing defense from even before the opposing team’s inbounds pass is highly disruptive, causing ball-handling mistakes and SOMEONE from the Rockets it seems, is ever-present to pounce on the ball and turn defense into offense.
Attention to detail: Hartley’s eyes are not always on the ball — and that is by design. He is often looking off the ball at what support players are doing. And it didn’t matter whether the starters or reserves were on the floor. Whether in basketball, soccer, rugby or scores of other sports, that movement off the ball (what a player does when he does not have the ball) is important for creating space to attack, either for himself or a teammate.
- Effort: Whether starters or reserves were on the floor for Blowing Rock, every single one knew what they were supposed to be doing and giving maximum effort to accomplish their objectives. They may not have had the athleticism, skill, or physical attributes to succeed every time, but they knew their respective roles and giving maximum effort.
The Watauga middle school league’s regular season draws to a close next week and Blowing Rock has two challenging matchups, both at home. On Monday, the Rockets host Green Valley (5-7) before facing their most competitive rival, Parkway (11-1), on Thursday. In their first encounters of the home-at-home series, Blowing Rock defeated Green Valley 56-40 and blew out Parkway, 32-13.
- BR – Bennett Brown (16)
- BR – Wyatt Kohout (12)
- CC – Troy Wilson (9)
- CC – Seth Greene (5)
- BR – Grant Troyer (4)
- CC – Cade Maiden (4)
- CC – Nathan Gatschall (4)
- CC – JT Cook (4)
- BR – Ayden Knight (3)
- BR – Ben Watson (3)
- BR – Chris Moore (3)
- BR – Brodie Sukow (2)
BR – Morgan Henry (2)
- CC – Orin Ellis (2)
- CC – Jack Hicks (1)