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March 10, 2013

Rockville suffers tough loss to Lafayette Central Catholic

Rox unbeaten season derailed in regional

FRANKFORT — Deep, physical Lafayette Central Catholic jumped on Rockville early in Class A Frankfort Regional high school basketball Saturday afternoon, and the Rox never really recovered.

The result was a 65-55 loss, Rockville’s first setback since the 2012 state championship game and leaving this year’s Rox three wins short of bettering that accomplishment.

Winning a state championship appeared to be a very reasonable goal for Rockville throughout most of the regular season, which included a beefed-up schedule, a Pizza Hut Wabash Valley Classic championship and a sweep of Vigo County opponents.

But the team’s depth and its regular rotation was compromised by an off-the-court event about a month ago, and the Rox took a further hit earlier in the week when a sinus infection blossomed into a Thursday night hospital stay and a 104-degree fever for forward Jordon McFall.

McFall played — “I can’t say enough about Jordon McFall,” coach Dave Mahurin said after the game. “He spent Thursday night in the hospital, but he gave us all he had” — and it’s a good thing, since the burly Knights seemed to substitute at every dead ball.

“The way I played was probably about 95 percent,” the teary-eyed McFall said after the game, “but I gave 120.”

Effort wasn’t really Rockville’s problem Saturday, and Josh Brown gave the team some effective minutes off the bench. But the Rox didn’t shoot well; for a while they didn’t rebound at all, partially because the Knights rarely missed shots themselves — and yet they might have overcome all of that were it not for Timmy Mills, who messed up the whole Rockville defensive strategy.

A 5-foot-11 senior who entered the game as the Knights’ third-leading scorer with a 10.1-point average, Mills got his average in the first quarter, hit 9 of his first 10 shots from the field including four 3-pointers, finished with a game-high 26 points and for good measure added eight rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block.

“It was a good day for him to have [the day of his life],” Rockville’s Lane Mahurin said.

“He made some shots,” coach Mahurin added. “We tried to stop No. 32 [LCC’s leading scorer Andrew Hubertz, who didn’t score until the fourth quarter], but [Mills] really stepped up and made a bunch.”

He made four of them in a personal 8-0 run late in the first quarter that put the Knights ahead 14-7. Then it was Lane Mahurin’s turn as the Rockville star accounted for the next seven points — an assist on a Keiontre Wilkey layup, a banked-in jumper to beat the first-quarter buzzer and a 3-pointer less than a minute into the second quarter — as the Rox came back to tie.

That was the first of four ties in a second quarter that also included six lead changes, as LCC had no answer defensively for Lane Mahurin. On the other end, however, just about the only stops Rockville got were on turnovers by the Knights — including a pair of steals by Wilkey — as LCC shot a consistent 70 percent for the first half on its way to 62 percent for the game. A 3-pointer by Mills — of course — broke the last tie, giving the Knights a 28-25 lead 1:08 before halftime, and Jake Churchill thwarted Rockville’s last-shot strategy with a steal and layup.

Rockville increased its intensity in the third quarter and got within two points twice, 32-30 following a putback by Nick Waltz and a 3-pointer by Gary Ulrich and 34-32 when Lane Mahurin stole the ball and threw down a windmill dunk that electrified the Rockville crowd. LCC showed no signs of panic, however, and two more 3-pointers by Mills helped the Knights build their lead back to 44-36 and 47-39.

McFall hit his second straight 3-pointer to cut into that margin, and it was 48-43 at the third stop. Rockville had the ball most of the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, but without converting possession to points, and reserve Nick Thompson got free for a layup that had the Knights ahead 50-43.

But Ulrich hit a 3-pointer, Waltz ripped down a defensive rebound following a rare miss by Mills, and Lane Mahurin got a fast-break layup at the other end. Ulrich stole the ball, and Rockville had a chance to tie or take the lead.

Then, suddenly, Hubertz appeared. He stole the ball for a layup, his first two points of the game, then stole it again to set up a 3-pointer by Churchill. Now the Rox were seven points behind, and after a McFall 3-pointer the Knights scored twice in a row to go up by eight. There were no miracles to come for the Rox.

“[The Knights] have a good team; we knew coming in they were good,” coach Mahurin said. “We didn’t shoot very well, and we seemed to get flustered at times.

“But I’m really proud of these guys. [Winning] 25 in a row is hard to do,” Dave Mahurin added. “I’m incredibly proud of my seniors.”

“We came out and couldn’t buy a basket,” Lane Mahurin said. “We didn’t really know what to expect, and [the Knights] kind of got the better of us tonight.”

“We just couldn’t make shots,” McFall said. “We had the same shots we’ve been hitting all year, they just didn’t go down. [The Knights are] a great team, and great shooters.”

“It was their day,” added Ulrich. “We played hard, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Churchill added 18 points for the Knights, who earned the right to meet Liberty Christian in Saturday night’s regional championship. Liberty Christian was too quick for Union (Modoc) in a 70-56 win in Saturday’s first semifinal game.

Lane Mahurin ended his Rockville career with one of his better all-around performances: 23 points, eight rebounds, four assists, three blocks and two steals while also guarding Hubertz (”Lane’s pretty good,” Dave Mahurin said after his younger son’s final high school game). McFall scored 14, Ulrich had 11, Waltz grabbed seven rebounds and Wilkey had six assists.

“It’s a sad day, but I’ve got a lot to be happy for,” said Ulrich. “I have no regrets coming to Rockville [after playing as a freshman at Terre Haute South]; I’ve had some of the best times of my life.”

“It was a fun run; I’m glad I got to do it,” added Lane Mahurin. “I’d have liked it to go on a little more.”

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Tribune-Star/Bob Poynter Fetch and fire: Rex third baseman #15 Ryan Sabo looks to first base after fielding a line drive down the baseline during game action against Quincy. Sabo got the runner for an out.


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