High school boys basketball

Dominating Rocklin second half slows Mission

Thunder score 44 points after intermission
By: Kurt Johnson, senior sports editor
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The pace was frenetic, as two talented teams went at each other at breakneck speed in an electrifying first half at the signature game in the Common Good Classic Saturday night at Del Oro High School. The two marquee stars did not disappoint, living up to the pre-game hype on a night filled with Brendan Lane dunks and Demaree Hampton high-speed rushes at the Rocklin defense. After a first half that ended in a 39-39 tie, the Rocklin High School boys basketball team’s depth and execution left Mission of San Francisco weary and unable to keep up as Rocklin pulled away for an 83-65 win. Rocklin put together a number of first-half runs to open up leads of six to eight points, but Mission answered each one, usually keyed by a spectacular steal, pass or shot by the 5-foot-9 bundle of energy, Hampton, who was the player of the year last season in the San Francisco Section. While the Bears are a team built on speed, Rocklin was not exactly walking the ball up the court, as Lane (nine points), Tony Williams (nine points) and Anthony Romero (eight points) delivered big in the first half for the Thunder. Hampton led the Mission attack with 12 points before intermission on a combination of quick moves to the rim, steals turned into layups and medium range jumpers off the bounce. After struggling to get back on defense for stretches of the first half, Rocklin made significant adjustments in the second half, taking away the easy baskets and making the Bears work for everything they would get. As the defense picked up, the open opportunities at the offensive end swelled as well, freeing Lane to get to the bucket for a series of spectacular throw-downs. Forward Pat Stover was increasingly active after the break for the Thunder, particularly in the third stanza when he scored seven points as Rocklin turned the deadlock into a 10-point lead at 62-52 heading into the final eight minutes. Guards Cody Kale, Zach Moss and Romero also lit up the second half as Rocklin outscored Mission 23-13 in third and then 21-13 in the fourth. Junior guard Terrence Langston found the range from beyond the 3-point arc for the Bears in the second half. His 16 points was just one short of Hampton’s team-high 17 for Mission. Hampton also nabbed four steals and dished out six assists, but his quickness with the ball, and the speed of his hands when Rocklin’s guards had the ball were his most impressive skills. Rocklin’s starting point guard Jackson Cummings sat this one out, a precautionary measure due to his recent hamstring problems, leaving the ball-handling duties largely to Justin Soria and Williams. The Thunder answered the test of an athletic Mission team, a nice preparation for the perimeter-oriented attack of Granite Bay that awaits as the squad returns to Sierra Foothill League play Tuesday night. Lane took the lead, delivering 21 points in the contest, along with seven rebounds, four assists and a pair of blocked shots. Rocklin was very strong in its high-low passing game, using its size to its full advantage with impressive interior passing. Kale ripped down nine boards to go with his 15 points, while Romero was very active, running the floor to rack up 16 points for Rocklin. Stover, with 10 points, six rebounds and three assists, and Williams with 11 points joined in as Rocklin had five players score in double figures. The exciting contest was an exciting conclusion the Common Good Classic, an event that dragged a bit midday on Saturday, but caught fire in the evening session with big crowds and a pair of exciting games. Del Oro needed overtime to knock off El Camino in the 6 p.m. game that set the stage for the end-to-end action of the Rocklin nightcap. Rocklin (4-0 in the SFL, 18-2 overall) is at Granite Bay (3-0, 15-3) Tuesday night in a battle for the league’s top spot.