Rockets take victory
CHAMPS Philadelphia's Mandrako Jackson goes up against Neshoba's Desmond Jones.
Photo by Paula Merritt
By Jim Luke/Special to the Star
Dec. 30, 2001
PHILADELPHIA Three times Neshoba Central and Philadelphia have met on the basketball court this season and three times it has come down to the buzzer. In the championship game of the Philly-Rush Medical Holiday Classic, the Neshoba Central Rockets would get the victory, 52-50, over the Philadelphia Tornadoes.
The Rockets looked as if they were going to blow the game wide open in the second quarter with three quick dunks to take the momentum in the game and the wind out of the Tornadoes' sails. They held a 30-20 lead at the half and stretched the lead to 12 points early in the third quarter before the Tornadoes began to fight their way back into the game.
Philadelphia started the fourth quarter with a strong offensive burst and took the lead at 43-42 with 5:18 left to play in the game. They built as much as a six-point lead before the Rockets came back to tie the game at 48-48 with two minutes left in the battle.
The two teams swapped baskets before Tavares Walker hit the final shot of the game with 38 seconds left. A three-point shot just before the buzzer tipped off the rim, denying Philadelphia and giving the Rockets the championship trophy.
In the two previous meetings between the two teams, the Rockets won the first game by three on a shot at the buzzer and the Tornadoes won the second on two free throws with only seconds remaining.
With the intensity of play in the early going, both teams found themselves with key players in foul trouble. Smith gave credit to a pair of players coming off the bench and playing well.
Robinson was proud of the way his team battled back in the second half to make a game of it after the momentum the Rockets had built in the first half.
Walker led the scoring in the game for the Rockets, 13-4, with 13 points followed by Calvin Parker with 12 and Desmond Jones with 10. Philadelphia, 11-4, was led by Tellas Burnside, who also had 13 points.
Both teams will be back in action after New Years' Day in the Neshoba Central Invitational.