Rockets peaking at right time

Fayetteville’s Max Lanham racked up 30 points to lead the way in the Rockets’ Feb. 6 win over Bethel-Tate. Above, Lanham rises for a score in the Rockets’ win over Ripley.

Fayetteville boys top Bethel-Tate for third straight win –

By Wade Linville –

The Fayetteville-Perry Rockets started out their 2016-17 basketball season winning just one of their first nine games, but the turn of the new year has also brought some well-deserved success on the court for the hard-working crew.
Since the beginning of January the Rockets have managed to pull out six wins, upping their Southern Hills Athletic Conference record to 5-6 and their overall record to 7-13.
On Tuesday, Feb. 7, the Rockets claimed their third consecutive victory by topping the now 13-4 Bethel-Tate Tigers 67-63 in a non-league contest at Fayetteville-Perry High School, coming off recent victories over Eastern (57-56) and Middletown Christian (57-48).
The Rockets have been competitive throughout the season, suffering narrow losses in a number of games this season. But in recent weeks the Rockets have gotten over that hump, learning how to close and bring home victories while gaining some needed confidence.
“They found out how to win, and they believe they can win,” said Fayetteville-Perry head coach Jason Iles. “We’re coming together and we’re peaking at the right time. They’re resilient and they work hard…I think that’s the key.”
Fayetteville senior Max Lanham, who has proven to be one of the strongest offensive threats in the SHAC with an average of 22 points per game, led the Rockets in scoring with 30 points in Tuesday’s win over Bethel-Tate, sinking 11 shots from the field, including two three-pointers, and connecting on six attempts from the foul line.
Also reaching double figures in scoring for the Rockets were sophomore CJ McCulley and junior Zak Smyth.
McCulley drained five field goals, including three three-pointers, to finish with 13 points, while Smyth buried three shots from the field and five from the charity stripe to end the night with 11 points.
“Early in the season they struggled to find their identity, but they’ve come a long way,” Iles said of his Rockets following their three straight wins. “We’re playing very well.”
The Rockets have hit their hot streak in the final weeks of the season just before the start of the post-season tourney, where they will compete on the Division IV level with intentions of making a nice tourney run.
Post-season tournament draws are this weekend, so be on the lookout for the upcoming editions of The News Democrat, The Ripley Bee, and The Brown County Press for updates.