By David Rogers. November 14, 2019. BOONE, NC — They may not (yet) be able to finish their fast-break transition offense with a rousing slam dunk, but seeing the 2019 edition of Blowing Rock boys basketball is well worth the price of admission. They proved that Thursday night, on the road, in running around, through, past and over the Eagles of Hardin Park, 61-31.
Keys to the Game
- Superb play by Blowing Rock in offensive transitions, often creating fast break scoring opportunities
- Transition defense that produced numerous turnovers by Hardin Park
- Blowing Rock advantage in player height, generally, as well as athleticism and ball-handling skills
- Blowing Rock’s better fitness facilitated good transition play, both offensively and defensively
It’s the High Country middle school version of the Los Angeles Lakers of the 1980s: athletic, fit, skilled and, most important, selfless. Who among us old folks can forget Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, James Worthy, Jamaal Wilkes, Kurt Rambis and the rest of the Lakers “Showtime” cast of basketball thrills? These Rocket boys weren’t even a figment of their parents’ respective imaginations back then, but we wouldn’t be surprised if head coach Todd Hartley has been digging into the NBA’s film archives to show them what it is like to play exciting, runnin’ and gunnin’ transition basketball.
And as good as the Rockets are in transition offense, what makes them special is their transition defense. Miss a shot and Hardin Park might have collected the defensive rebound, but the ball often had not even settled in the Eagle player’s hands before he was hounded in a corner, forcing an errant dribble for a turnover, a bad pass, or even an intercepted pass — prompting the Blowing Rock five on the court to immediately go back into offensive attack mode.
Led by playmaker Wyatt Kohout’s 10 points to open the game, Blowing Rock exploded to a 22-6 lead at the end of the first quarter, with point guard Grant Troyer and Morgan Henery each contributing four points in the period and guard Sam Nixon adding two. Kohout added nine points in the second period before sitting most of the second half, finishing with a game-high 19 points.
Jake Henderson scored 16 points to pace Hardin Park.
Two moments during the game stand out for this reporter to suggest that the 2019 Rockets are special. Early in the second period, Kohout took an inbounds pass and turned to start up court. He was immediately confronted by three Hardin Park defenders, hoping to either steal or force a turnover. Kohout deftly changed direction, dribbling behind his back to the right and then found an open teammate on the other side of the court.
Such is the skill and ball-handling confidence that many of the Rockets display, especially for this age group. It’s not just Kohout, but Nixon, Troyer, Henery, and Brown, too, to name a few that stood out.
The other moment was late in the game with the outcome all but decided. Blowing Rock’s frontliners were on the bench, arms locked around each others shoulders, together urging on their teammates who were on the court. The love, the playing for each other, the selflessness — that is what makes this team special. There may be better players, but there do not seem to be any “stars,” no prima donnas. It’s all for one and one for all with the 2019 Rockets.
- 19 – Wyatt Kohout
- 9 – Bennett Brown
- 8 – Grant Troyer
- 8 – Morgan Henery
- 6 – M. Duvall
- 2 – Sam Nixon
- 2 – Andrew Hill
- 2 – Collin Anderson
- 2 – Brodie Sukow
- 1 – Ben Watson
- 1 – Aiden Knight
- 16 – Jake Henderson
- 4 – Heath Rowan
- 4 – Ben Gosky
- 3 – Nick Lyons
- 2 – Josiah Railey
- 2 – Kaden Homeier