By Wade Linville –
After struggling for wins in the first part of their 2016-17 court campaign, the Fayetteville-Perry Rockets wrapped up their regular season on a positive note heading into post-season tourney play.
Going into their final game of the regular season, a Feb. 17 Southern Hills Athletic Conference bout at West Union, the Rockets had won three of their past four games with victories over Eastern (57-56), Middletown Christian (57-48), and the Bethel-Tate Tigers (67-63).
Their only loss in February, as of Feb. 16, was to the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs on Feb. 10. The visiting Rockets would suffer a narrow 68-62 loss to the Mustangs who hold a 11-1 record in SHAC play as the front runner in the conference’s big school division.
The Rockets stood at a conference record of 5-7 following the Feb. 10 loss to the Mustangs, putting them in a tie for third place in SHAC Division II standings with the North Adams Green Devils going into the final week of regular season play.
After capping off their regular season, first-year varsity boys’ head coach Jason Iles and his Rockets were gearing up to make a run in the Southwest District Division IV Sectional Tournament at Taylor High School that kicks off Feb. 25.
As the No. 7 seed, the Rockets will begin sectional tournament play against No. 6 seed Middletown Christian, and the winner of that round one contest will move on to face No. 2 seed Cincinnati College Prep on Feb. 28 at Taylor High School.
For the Rockets, it’s been a season in which many players have displayed their leadership skills on the court.
Max Lanham has enjoyed an outstanding senior season on the court as one of the top scorers in the SHAC with an average of more than 20 points per game.
Junior center Zak Smyth has averaged 8.9 points per game and 6.9 rebounds per contest this season, while junior postman Luke Wiederhold has contributed to the Rockets’ success with an average of more than 7.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.
The Rockets’ senior point guard Nic Ball has also played a significant role in Fayetteville-Perry’s success this season, averaging just under seven points and over four assists per contest.
Junior guard Colin Connor and sophomore forward CJ McCulley have both averaged more than five points per game this season.
The SHAC brought some stiff competition for the Rockets this season, but their hard-fought battles in league play during the regular season have helped to prepare the Rockets for the post-season tournament.
“Our league is tough, but it made us better,” said Iles. “We’re looking forward to a big end to the year.”