ROANOKE – Over the initial 16 minutes of the girls’ basketball regional opener on Feb. 4, host Roanoke-Benson was in control against Elmwood.
However, during the final 16 minutes, the Rockets were plagued by cold shooting and turnovers, which ultimately did them in, as the guests won 52-35 at Dick Broers Gymnasium.
R-B (6-18) held a 26-21 halftime lead before trouble came a brewing. They went over four minutes without a point, while the Trojans (12-19) made five of 10 shots.
A Monge bucket ended the Rockets’ drought and made the score 32-28.
Elmwood scored the next seven points of the quarter. All told, they outscored R-B 18 to two in the frame.
“That’s a sign of our season,” Rockets’ coach Todd Nafziger said. “We started the first three minutes of the third quarter with three turnovers. Experienced teams do not do that. We’re young and inexperienced. We have a lot of underclass kids we play because we do not have the numbers. We talked about how important the first three minutes of the third quarter were.”
R-B kept their turnovers down in the first half with eight, but was guilty of nine in the third period alone and finished with 24.
Against a taller, but slower opponent, the Rockets attempted to work the ball around versus the Trojans’ 2-3 zone.
“That’s what we wanted to do,” explained Nafziger. “For whatever reason, we refused to move the ball then we started to telegraph our passes.
“When we play up to our potential, we can stay in games, but with a lack of inexperience, it can be a snowball effect. Give them (Elmwood) credit. They’re an aggressive team.”
Monge led R-B with 14 points. The Rockets converted 10 of 24 from the floor in the first, but made just four of 22 in the second.
Conversely, Elmwood was eight of 30 from the field in half one and 13 of 30 in the second. Montana Ledbetter finished with 20 points, while teammate Shelby Glover added 14.
The game was just the second since Jan. 17 for the Rockets, but Nafziger dismissed rust as a factor.
“I’m not going to use that as an excuse. Everybody has been affected,” he pointed out. “We had some good practices. Games are better than practices because you cannot simulate game situations in practice.”
All 35 of the R-B came from their starters, while 48 of the Trojans’ 52 were from the starting five.