The Rockdale County boys’ varsity basketball team dropped their 2013 season opener at Cleveland Stroud Gymnasium Tuesday night, committing 29 fouls and turning the ball over 13 times in the second half of a 67-43 loss to visiting Stephenson.
The Jaguars outscored the Bulldogs by 14 points in the second half at the charity stripe, while allowing Rockdale just 16 points in the opening half of play.
Thomas Oglesby led Stephens with 14 points in the win, including nine points from the free-throw line in the second half, while Daniel Kinchen and Jurran Henderson added 13 and 12 points apiece, respectively.
Connor Ferrel led the Bulldogs with 11 points, but was the only Rockdale player to score in double figures in the loss.
“Truly, it was a show of sophomores against (Stephenson’s) seniors tonight,” Rockdale head coach Alen Williams said. “We were out-matched. I saw a couple of our players show a little more heart than I thought they had in them and that was encouraging. I did see some toughness and I think we can build on that. I want to see us continue to get a little better each game.”
The Bulldogs jumped out to a quick start in the first half, opening up an 8-0 advantage over Stephenson.
A pair of Jaguar turnovers led to lay-ups from Jalen Jordan and Derreon Johnson, and Rockdale extended its advantage to three possessions on a Johnson drive to the basket.
Rockdale turned the ball over just twice over the opening five minutes, but six turnovers in the final three minutes of the first quarter helped the Jaguars chip into the Bulldogs’ lead. Down 12-1, Stephenson’s scored the opening quarter’s final five points on a 5 lay-up and Delmont Walton put-back, sending Rockdale into the second period with a 12-6 lead.
The wheels fell off for the Bulldogs in the second quarter, as Stephenson outscored Rockdale 21-4 in the period.
Rockdale was held without a field goal until five minutes into the quarter, as the Jaguars rallied back to take a 13-12 advantage on a Henderson 3-pointer at the top of the key. Julian McKnight scored the Bulldogs’ final basket of the period to cut Stephenson’s advantage to 21-16 on a turnaround jumper, but the Jaguars went 3-for-3 from the stripe to close the period 24-16.
The Jaguars extended their lead to as many as 22 in the third quarter, going 8-for-11 at the charity stripe in the period.
Rockdale clawed their way back to within 17 of the Jaguars with 1:46 to go in the period on a Jamal Turner lay-up after an offensive rebound, but Turner was unable to covert the free throw attempt after the Jaguars were whistled for a foul after the basket.
Ferrel knocked down a baseline jumper to keep the Jaguars’ advantage at 17, but Oglesby converted a free throw with two seconds to go in the period to help Stephenson to a 46-28 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
The Jaguars went 13-of-18 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, outscoring Rockdale by 10 from the charity stripe. Ferell scored seven of his team-high 11 points in the quarter on a pair of jumpers and a lay-up, but Stephenson held on for the 24-point win after Turner sank a 3-pointer in the left corner to end the Bulldogs’ scoring with 15 seconds left in the game.
McKnight grabbed a team-high six rebounds in the loss, while Darryl Tucker added two blocks.
Rockdale returns to action Nov. 22 on the road at Evans High School for the William Avery Tip-Off Classic.