Lady Rockets blow by Lady Bulldogs

FAYETTEVILLE —The Fayetteville Lady Rockets looked to return to their winning ways Wednesday, Jan. 13 when the Batavia Lady Bulldogs visited for a non-conference contest.

The Lady Rockets had split their last four games entering the bout with the Bulldogs, falling to North Adams and Eastern but winning games over Bethel and Georgetown. Thanks in large part to a domination of Batavia on the glass, the Lady Rockets picked up their ninth win of the season, beating Batavia 53-37.

The Lady Rockets offense started the game hot. Batavia hit three three-point shots in the first quarter, but did little else from the floor. Fayetteville had three players score at least four points in the quarter, pushing the Lady Rockets to an 18-10 lead at the end of the first.

Fayetteville head coach Toby Sheets commented on the up-and-down style of play his team used in the first quarter to build their lead, noting it’s something his squad does regularly.

“We spend a lot of time on that,” Sheets said. “I’ve brought that style in and we want to push the ball. About everything we do in practice is geared around that.”

Neither offense did much of anything in the second. Batavia scored the first basket of the quarter with 7:07 left before halftime. The Lady Bulldogs didn’t score again until the 2:25 mark. Fayetteville wasn’t much better, though Taylor Cornett did have four points before falling and hitting her head on the floor at the 3:44 mark. She would later return to the game.

Fayetteville took a 25-14 lead into halftime. In the third quarter, Batavia cut into the Lady Rockets’ lead a bit. Samantha and Cecilia Murphy scored all ten points for Fayetteville, five apiece but Leona Burton scored eight points for the Lady Bulldogs. Batavia put up 11 points in the quarter and entered the final eight minutes of the contest down 35-25.

Samantha Murphy continued her hot shooting into the fourth quarter. She hit three three-point shots, giving her 20 points for the game and leading her team to the victory.

Meghan Koch finished the game with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Samantha Murphy pulled down 12 rebounds in addition to her seven steals and five assists. Cecilia Murphy grabbed seven rebounds and chipped in 13 points.

Taylor Cornett scored eight points for the Lady Rockets, and Sheets said her speed is what allows her to contribute offensively.

“She’s accustomed to pushing the ball,” Sheets said. “Come next year she’ll probably be in the position that Samantha [Murphy]’s in. She’s good at fast breaking, she’s quick too. As far as full speed, she’s probably as fast as anyone we have.”

The Lady Rockets shot less than 33 percent for the game, hitting just 21 of their 76 shots. Batavia didn’t fair much better, hitting 12 of 53 attempts from the floor. Sheets said shooting woes have plagued his team for a while, which is why the squad prefers to play a fast-break style of offense.

“We haven’t been shooting that well lately,” Sheets said. “I’m hoping that will change any day but pushing the ball is key if you can get the other team to run. We’re not that deep, so we have to be in pretty good shape.”

One thing that went extremely well for the Lady Rockets, their rebounding. The squad pulled down a whopping 54 rebounds in the game, with every active player grabbing at least four. Of the 54 boards, 30 of them came on the offensive glass. Sheets was pleased with how well his team crashed the boards.

“I thought we rebounded well,” Sheets said. “This was one of our better rebounding nights. Koch had around 12 herself, and we needed that. In order to run the fast break, you have to start with the rebounds. We had a size advantage, which isn’t normal. We play some big teams, we just came off North Adams and you do get tougher and pound the glass more. I’m sure that played into it too.”

The Lady Rockets venture out of the Southern Hills Athletic Conference for a game against the Williamsburg Lady Wildcats on Saturday, Jan. 16 at 1:30 p.m. After another bout against a Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference foe in Felicity on Wednesday, Jan. 20, the Lady Rockets return to SHAC play at home against the Peebles Lady Indians on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Fayetteville senior Samantha Murphy drives to the hoop in the Lady Rockets’ 16-point home victory over Batavia. senior Samantha Murphy drives to the hoop in the Lady Rockets’ 16-point home victory over Batavia. Garth Shanklin | News Democrat

Fayetteville junior Taylor Cornett attempts a jump-shot in the second half of the Lady Rockets’ victory over Batavia Wednesday night. junior Taylor Cornett attempts a jump-shot in the second half of the Lady Rockets’ victory over Batavia Wednesday night. Garth Shanklin | News Democrat

By Garth Shanklin

Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or follow him on Twitter at @GNDShanklin.