MCGRAW — One cold stretch by the DeRuyter Rockets nearly doomed them in their game against the McGraw Eagles Friday night at McGraw High.
But the Rockets were saved by the third quarter buzzer and used the break to regain their composure — and their sizeable lead — in a 74-57 victory.
DeRuyter’s Ben Barnes led all scorers with 25 points. Gavin Richardson was just behind him with 24 points, and Riley Glisson added 13 points.
Caleb Smith led the Eagles with 16 points. Gaven Truman added 12 points.
The Eagles got off to a 6-0 lead with two quick threepointers before the Rockets made their first of multiple big runs in the game. A 9-0 run gave them the lead that would end up being permanent.
After the Eagles cut the deficit to one shortly thereafter, the Rockets went on a run that swelled from 6-0 to 12-0 to 16-0 between the first and second quarters.
A 15-8 first quarter deficit for the Eagles suddenly turned to 25-8.
The Eagles began to claw their way back into the game in the latter stages of the second quarter, outscoring the Rockets 17-7 in the final four minutes. Two late three-pointers had the Rockets lead back down to single digits at halftime, 32-25.
The Rockets began the second half with an 11-2 run to get the lead up to 16, but the Eagles still would not go away.
A 10-2 run once again put them within striking distance.
Then the Eagles saw their window blow wide open.
The Rockets ended the third quarter with just one point in their last six possessions, and two three-pointers and a buzzer- beating layup by the Eagles made it a 51-49 score with eight minutes to go.
“We had a series of bad looks in the third,” Rockets coach Ric Barnes said. “We didn’t take good shots and when we were close we didn’t finish well [or] at all. This combined with the fact that McGraw knocked down a handful of threes and gained confidence as the quarter wore on.”
Whether it was being saved by the buzzer, Barnes’ speech between quarters or any other number of factors, the fourth quarter was marked by yet more dominance by the Rockets.
Glisson started the quarter with five straight points and a couple of steals when McGraw had the chance to tie or take the lead on their first two possessions.
The Rockets outscored the Eagles 16-0 through the first four minutes of the fourth quarter before a Nate Stiles layup finally got them on the board, but by then the damage had been done, and the Rockets were in line for another win.
“We have to give McGraw credit,” Barnes said. “They could have easily quit when we built our lead in the second quarter. They did not. In the fourth our pressure finally wore them down and we scored some easy ones. We turned them over a couple times and our game kind of came back to us.”