By David Rogers. November 7, 2019. ZIONVILLE, NC — Both involve “battles,” but there is a huge difference between middle school basketball and war. And there we are, masters of understatement.
COVER IMAGE: Aiden Knight (44) lays it up and in for the Rockets. All photographic images by David Rogers for Blowing Rock News.
SEE SLIDESHOW AT BOTTOM OF STORY
Basketball is not a matter of life and death. It is a game — and it is OK to show mercy for the vanquished even before the contest begins. Given that perspective, hats off for Blowing Rock basketball head coach Todd Hartley and his players in the Rockets’ 34-14 win over Mabel.
Before Thursday night’s tipoff in front of a packed grandstand full of parents, grandparents, classmates and family friends, even during warm-ups the outcome was obvious. With only one 8th grader, four 7th graders, and the rest 6th graders, the Mabel roster was both young and very small, many still trying to find their athletic legs. Look to the other side of the court, and Blowing Rock’s team featured three or four players pushing, if not exceeding six feet in height. The physical maturity, by comparison, was obvious. And they were athletic.
So Hartley made it a better game and, in doing so, probably did more team-building for future games in the Watauga County Schools middle school league. He started his reserves. His “star” front-liners barely scratched the surface of the court with their Air Jordans.
At the end of the first quarter, Blowing Rock led, 9-4. At halftime, it was 21-8. The Rockets kept Mabel scoreless in the third quarter, even while backing off on defense and led 30-8 with another period to play.
Very much to their credit, the host Mustangs kept at it with energy and determination. It paid off with their highest offensive production in final stanza, six points. One of Mabel’s parents confided in Blowing Rock News before the game that they knew this could be a “bloodbath,” so to speak, but their goal was to just make double-digits in scoring. With 14, they accomplished that objective.
Mabel was led in scoring by Briar Jones’ eight points. For the Rockets, Brodie Sukow poured in 10, while a trio of Rockets (Sam Nixon, Hayden Hoge, and Fran Miranda Aponet) each had 4.
It was fun night of basketball made even more fun by the Rockets showing mercy — and giving their young, mostly reserves a chance to play when the playing mattered. And the moments were plenty, such as when Hoge drove the left side, just outside of the key, and threw up a blind prayer of a shot from somewhere behind his back — and it went in, and he got a foul shot opportunity to boot. Boys being boys, he was “rewarded” by teammate Will Kirkland playfully shoving him across the floor as if to say, smilingly, “Get out of here!”
Blowing Rock’s boys team won a basketball game Thursday night. Mabel’s young players were allowed to develop some skills, as did Blowing Rock’s up-and-comers. They all got a taste of athletic competition and the parents, grandparents, classmates and family friends were all entertained by a competitive game. Mercy wins, most of all.
- 8 – Briar Jones
- 2 – Levi Lemons
- 2 – Mack Brown
- 2 – Alton Tester
- 10 – Brodie Sukow
- 4 – Fran Miranda Aponet
- 4 – Sam Nixon
- 4 – Hayden Hoge
- 3 – Grant Troyer
- 3 – Chris Moore
- 2 – Collin Anderson
- 2 – Will Kirkland
- 2 – Aiden Knight
SLIDESHOW By David Rogers for Blowing Rock News