TIPP CITY - Few teams with high expectations often live up to the hype that is behind them. Last year the Fayetteville squad went 24-2 and returned nearly every component from the squad.
Expectations were at an all time high for the Lady Rockets and they lived up to the hype. The Rockets were 26-0 going into Saturday’s game against Fort Loramie in the regional final and a spot for the final four in Division IV basketball.
Through a hard fought roller coaster ride of a game, the Rockets would come up short 70-61 on the road in Tipp City.
The nine point spread does not indicate how close the two teams played in the contest. Early on, Fayetteville struggled offensively. In the first quarter, there were 14 turnovers between the two teams and the Rockets managed to score just eight points in the quarter. It was not until nearly the six minute mark in the first quarter that the Rockets got on the board with a Megan Eyre free throw. Fort Loramie would take a 13-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Suprisingly for Fayetteville, leading scorer MaKayla Rosselot has just one bucket in the first quarter and in fact had just taken one shot in the entire quarter. She was struggling to get open from the hard-nosed Fort Loramie defense.
“I’m sure they knew (Rosselot) was our leading scorer getting 25 a game. They were going to deny her,” Head Coach Toby Sheets said. “”She isn’t our only offensive threat and once others got scoring, it freed her up.”
She found her freedom on the offensive end in the second quarter when she ran off eight straight Rocket points that led to a tie at 21 each in the second quarter with just under two minutes left. However, Ft. Loramie would go on a run to end the second quarter and take a 28-23 lead into half time.
Early foul trouble hurt the Rockets in the first half. Particularly inside when Lincoln Smyth went out with two fouls in the first half and paved the way for inside scoring from Fort Loramie.
“They can go big or go small. Turner is a normal starter and when she didn’t start, I thought they had something up their sleeve,” Sheets said. “Once Lincoln got in foul trouble I think they tried to capitalize on the inside”
Rosselot got the second half started for the Rockets with a layup to pull the Rockets within three at 28-25, but Fort Loramie would not be denied. Southwest District Player of the Year Darin Rose would run off 14 points in the third quarter to lead her team.
“She’s an outstanding player,” Sheets said. “I’ve watched her in two games and five tapes, and this is quite possibly the best game I’ve seen her play. She’s a true player. She’s as strong as the strongest player I’ve seen, she’s as good of a shooter as the best shooter I’ve seen, and she can post up as well as the best post player I’ve seen.”
Rosselot would not be outdone as she fired off 12 points of her own in the third quarter. It was a scoring duel for the ages between two of the best players in the Southwest District.
Through three quarter, the Rockets found themselves trailing 52-41 in a thriller for the ages in Division IV basketball. The 11 point lead would be hard for the Rockets to erase but Sheets has called his team a fourth quarter team as they seem to play their best late in games.
In the fourth quarter it would be Eyre to lead the Rockets with seven points including a huge pull up three pointer to keep the Rockets alive. The most astonishing stat of the fourth quarter was Rose at the free throw line. She would go 10-10 in the quarter and add another 12 points giving her 35 for the game.
“I think they all did they all they could,” Sheets said. “They are still kids, they are going to miss shots but I can tell you they never game up.”
Though the Lady Rockets would come up short 70-61, they never dropped their heads as they walked off the court. The senior led squad went an astounding 91-9 over their four years in Fayetteville and set numerous school records including most wins in a season and have gone 50-2 in league play over the last four years.
Sheets called this group the most fun he has ever coached in his 26 years.
“It is such a fun group to coach,” Sheets said. “They are so explosive on offense and fun to watch. All three of our guards to start on any team (Rosselot, Eyre, Alex Carson), it is very exciting.”
He commended his teams hard work and effort in the game and in practice and always living up to the hype behind them.
“Practice is a joy,” Sheets said. “It’s a constant effort. Never one time in four years did I say, ‘Hey you guys got to pick it up a notch’, they bring it every day.”