RM boys varsity basketball defeats Northwood in blowout victory on senior night

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RM boys varsity basketball defeats Northwood in blowout victory on senior night

Evan Scheinberg

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RM’s defense shut down Northwood on Monday night en route to a blowout 77-48 victory in the last game of the regular season. Senior Night for the Rockets took place at Northwood High School since RM’s gymnasium is out of commission due to water damage. The Rockets’ ten seniors all got a chance to shine as RM outclassed Northwood. RM are now 17-4 as they enter the playoffs next Monday against Blair.

After the seniors came out of the locker room in their “RM Basketball Alumni” shirts and received their gifts of posters of themselves, the starters took the floor looking to bring home a victory for the seniors. Coach Breslaw sent Joseph Contreras, Nasiir “Nas” Robinson, Jonathan Custodio, George Brewington III, and Tolu Baiyeshea to mid-court for the tip. On the Rockets’ first possession, miscommunication led to an immediate turnover. However, the Rockets defense showed signs of early domination on the ensuing possessions, forcing many turnovers and converting them into fast break points. Baiyeshea continued to show off his brute strength and dominance as he has been in the past few games, scoring four points and giving the Rockets a 9-1 lead halfway through the quarter. The Rockets kept on pushing the tempo, getting the ball to Julian Stover for two and-1 buckets before Northwood called a timeout with a minute left to play, with RM winning 15-3. After a short 4-0 run by the Gladiators, RM finished the quarter on a high note with Contreras knocking down a jump shot as time expired.

RM continued to execute their gameplan of crashing the boards to grab rebounds and playing tight and disruptive defense as the second quarter began. Julian Stover, Joseph Contreras, Zaire Mitchell, Daniel Alexander, and Nas Robinson took the floor as the second period commenced. The Rockets opened up with great hustle, pushing the ball and pressing the Gladiators, causing turnovers and getting second chance points off of offensive rebounds. Not too long into the quarter, Julian Stover found Zaire Mitchell cutting to the hoop and lobbed it up to hit for the alley-oop slam. Stover began to heat up and facilitate the ball, which ended up in the hands of Custodio and Robinson, who knocked down three pointers. The Rockets’ persistent defense and boxing out helped create countless scoring opportunities. Jordan Stover had an exceptional example of boxing out when he pushed back a Northwood player, grabbed the rebound, and put it back up for the and-1 bucket. Ball movement through the high post helped clear the lane and create open perimeter shots for the Rockets, which contributed to RM’s run to end the half. As the half concluded, RM led Northwood with a score of 35-21.

Photo by Tide photographer Kevin Pan

The original starters took the floor as the second half went underway. The Rockets began to open up a huge lead, starting with Nas Robinson fumbling the ball and recovering in midair for a leaning jump shot. Baiyeshea continued his rolling rebounding efforts and Alexander led the offensive pace. Robinson also began to heat up, hitting two three pointers on back-to-back possessions, and George Brewington showed off his athletic ability, slicing through the lane for an acrobatic finish at the rim. Zaire Mitchell caught an alley-oop for a finish, this time coming from Daniel Alexander. With 3:30 left in the third quarter, RM had opened up a twenty point lead, 49-29. Play and consistent scoring continued as the Rockets compounded their lead over the Gladiators. Julian Watson drew a foul as he went up strong into contact, and hit the layup as well as knocking down his free throw for the old-fashioned three-point-play. The Rockets finished the quarter holding a substantial lead over the Gladiators with a score of 60-37.

The start of the final quarter saw the lineup of Brewington, Custodio, Robinson, and both Stover brothers. Without the big man presence of Baiyeshea or Mitchell, the Stover brothers picked up the role of attacking the rim. A minute into the quarter, Jordan Stover went coast-to-coast off a defensive rebound and into the lane for the one-handed slam to ignite the RM crowd. The Rockets’ defense started to lay off a little, and offense picked up. Isolation plays led to difficult baskets and several highlight plays, such as junior Gerami Sadeghi completed a behind-the-back crossover to turn his defender around. RM’s fundamentals also were put on display with constant backdoor cutting and uses of the drop-step move on the low block in near proximity with the basket. Even though the defense was not as tight, the Rockets were still able to keep a consistent level of intensity that was enough to force turnovers. Ball movement remained consistent throughout the whole game as the ball was rotated multiple times around the perimeter and high post before shots was attempted. The game came to an end after Baiyeshea finished at the hoop with the foul. As time expired, the Rockets had defeated the Gladiators of Northwood 77-48 on Senior Night.

When asked about he and his teammates’ mindset during the game, senior Julian Stover explained, “Today’s game was the most fun I’ve ever had in a game, and I think all my teammates would agree. It was a very emotional game, especially for our seniors. We came through for our family and fans.”

The Rockets won 4A/3A South division and earned a top seed in the playoffs. RM will play Blair in the playoffs on Monday, a team the Rockets did fall to in early December, 43-40.