Thunder boys earned trip to Sleep Train Arena
The Rocklin boys basketball team withstood a barrage of second-half treys by visiting El Camino to capture a CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals berth with a 77-65 win last Friday.
Rocklin hosted their second-consecutive game after the No.18 seeded El Camino upset No.2 St. Mary’s in the first round.
Three Thunder players scored in double digits. Taylor Cherry led the team with 19 points on an 8-for-13 shooting performance. Devin Moss (15) and Hayden Cook (14) rounded out Rocklin’s scoring leaders.
El Camino played in step with the Thunder to start the game for a narrow lead by period’s end. The Eagles offense struggled in the second quarter shooting less than 15 percent as Rocklin outscored the visitors 22-9.
After the half, El Camino’s Dallen Eddenfield kick started the Eagles’ offense with three treys in the span of four minutes. Within a handful of possessions, Rocklin’s 14-point lead evaporated to one on the heels of Eddenfield’s performance.
But just as the momentum seemed to favor the visiting team, Cherry planted a trey of his own. His effort was followed by a pair of Max O’Rourke field goals. The 10-0 run capped the third period and reaffirmed Rocklin’s offense in the final period.
Devin Moss led the Thunder in the final period with an 8-8 performance at the foul line. The Thunder shot 85 percent with 24 points scored from the charity stripe.
“We knew that (El Camino) shot the ball very well,” said Rocklin head coach Casey Cutts. “They were rolling. We just knew we had to play our kind of basketball.”
Cherry, reiterated his coach’s thoughts after the game.
“We felt we needed to play our style,” said Cherry. “We hit a little bit of a lull in the third, but we rebounded to a strong finish.”
ROCKLIN 62, LAGUNA CREEK 42
The Thunder schooled the Cardinals on what physical play is all about by handing the visitors a 20-point loss in round one of the playoffs.
Applying steady pressure on defense and waiting until their shots began to fall, the No. 7 seeded Thunder steadily pulled away from the 10th seeded visitors. With a 14-point lead at the end of three periods, Rocklin went on a 15-9 run to seal the game.
The boys in blue drained 19-of-20 free-throw tosses giving up one miss in the final minute of play. Devin Moss was 12-12 from the charity stripe to finish the night with 18 points. Hayden Cook and Max O’Rourke each score seven.
In contrast, the Cardinals were 10-18 from the foul line and relied heavily on 3-point shooting to try and stay in the game. Malik Pope, Laguna Creek’s second-leading scorer during the season, was unable to play due to an injury.
Laguna Creek stayed with Rocklin on the boards through the first half, but seemed to tire after that. The Thunder took down 18 rebounds in the second half to the Cards’ seven.
ROCKLIN 77, EL CAMINO 65
Eagles 15 9 17 24 – 65
Thunder 14 22 16 16 – 77
El Camino – 22-59, 10-20, 65, 3Pt 9-25. Rocklin – 25-50, 24-28, 77, 3Pt 3-12.
Turnovers – EC 12, R 15.