Lady Jack­ets make it to Elite Eight

The Standard Journal - - SPORTS - By Jeremy Ste­wart JSte­[email protected]

It was a big run for the Rock­mart Lady Jack­ets bas­ket­ball team, but this year it was cut short be­fore they could reach cham­pi­onship gold for the 2019 sea­son.

Rock­mart took on peren­nial play­off con­tender Laney in Rock­mart and lost 64-43, bring­ing an end to the Lady Jack­ets’ best sea­son in school his­tory af­ter reach­ing the Elite Eight and get­ting 20 wins for the first time. They were able to host for a third round game on Feb. 26.

“I feel like we had good en­ergy. The girls came out and played hard, there’s no doubt about that. It’s just about be­ing in the mo­ment,” Rock­mart head coach Tim Puck­ett said. “We’ve got a young squad and this was a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence for them. There’s no doubt in my mind that we can get back here again, but this time we’ll have the ex­pe­ri­ence of this game to help us.”

Rock­mart (20-8) found it tough to get into a rhythm against the twotime de­fend­ing Class AA state cham­pi­ons, fall­ing be­hind 25-13 af­ter the open­ing quar­ter and un­able to catch up. Lead­ing scorer Ke­yarah Berry had 13 points for the Lady Jack­ets while Me­gan Lit­tle had eight.

Berry — who, along with Lit­tle, is a sopho­more — fouled out late in the third quar­ter. Laney (28-2) was led by Jaiden Hamil­ton’s 23 points. The Lady Wild­cats made their first 13 free throws and fin­ished 17-of28 for the night, while Rock­mart was 20-of-42.

“In my ex­pe­ri­ence if you shoot free throws well it al­lows you to be more com­fort­able, and that didn’t hap­pen for us tonight,” Puck­ett said. “Still, we did well. When you play an op­po­nent you have to adapt to how they are play­ing, and Laney was phys­i­cal. But we had a lot of grit.”

A 15-2 run by Laney in the sec­ond quar­ter was the bump the vis­i­tors needed to stake a strong claim to the vic­tory, and with Berry and Lit­tle in foul trou­ble by the end of the first half things never set­tled for the Lady Jack­ets.

“This is a huge ac­com­plish­ment for these girls and this pro­gram. There are so many things they should be proud of. This was def­i­nitely a learn­ing curve for us though,” Puck­ett said.

/ Jeremy Ste­wart

Rock­mart’s Me­gan Lit­tle (cen­ter) splits Laney’s San­tana Den­nis (left) and Whit­ney An­der­son as she drives to­ward the bas­ket dur­ing a Class AA state quar­ter­fi­nal game Tues­day, Feb. 26, 2019, at Rock­mart.

/ Jeremy ste­wart

Coach Tim Puck­ett and the Rock­mart girls’ bas­ket­ball team host Laney to­day in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Class AA state play­offs.

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