While most Indiana high school boys basketball teams are looking forward to the state tournament next week, one last game saw "David slay Goliath" once more.
Rockville, ranked fourth in Class A, beat state ranked and Class 4A power, Terre Haute South 45-38 tonight at Terre Haute's Hulman Center.
The game sold so many tickets it had to be moved from Rockville's own "Rock-O-Dome" to Indiana State's home floor in the Hulman Center.
To break even, Rockville needed to sell 800 tickets to their regular season finale. With both teams state ranked, it looked like the 3,000 plus crowd surpassed all expected goals.
Terre Haute South, which began the year state-ranked and knocked off national power Indianapolis Lawrence North by one at home, entered the regular season finale with an 18-3 mark and was ranked eighth in the class 4A polls.
Both teams feature future Division-1 college players, including Rockville's own 6'8 star forward RJ Mahurin. Mahurin takes his skills to Indiana State next year, and actually gained some experience playing on ISU's home floor as his future coach watched from the stands.
Unfortunately, Terre Haute South's chances of moving past the first round of the state tourney were dealt a serious blow when the Braves' own D1 senior standout guard, Jake Odum, injured his ankle earlier this week and may miss the rest of the season.
The opening quarter went back-and-forth, and when the dust settled South led 12-11. Mahurin hit a trey early, but he was shut down by the defensive skills of South's 6'1 junior guard Chris Rose.
Rose continued to be a thorn in Mahurin's side all night. He chased Mahurin from one end of the floor to the other. Rose's defense alone kept the bigger Mahurin from getting the ball.
With Mahurin all tied up, Rockville's senior guard Josh Reed stepped up and helped keep the Rox in the game as his 10-foot jumper with 1:58 to go in the first half put the Rox up 19-17.
South got a jumper of their own from senior Ian Mcintyre to send the game into the half time knotted at 21. The defense on the bigger Mahurin seemed to be the difference in the opening half.
Watching the game from the crowd it looked like Rose was all over Mahurin as he only got the ball a handful of times in the first half. Most fans watching in attendance agreed the defensive pressure was a huge key in the low first-half score.
The third quarter was much like the opener: Neither team could make a big run. The Rox got two baskets from Reed, one with just 35 seconds left in the third, which sent the Rox into the final quarter up 30-25.
The final quarter saw the Brave come out still in their Box-1 defense on Mahurin. This time he was able to break lose and the all-star hit a three-pointer with 4:58 to play, lifting the Rox to a 36-29 lead. It was the biggest lead of the ball game.
South's Braves tried full court pressure, but that move allowed Mahurin to take over and helped seal the win. In the last 38 seconds he went 5-6 from the chairty stripe.
Tonight's match up was one of the best games ever played by the Rox. Playing the larger school this close to sectional play could have hurt the Rox.
A loss, and they go in on the wrong foot. But win, and that sends them in riding high. Beating the bigger school on a neutral floor makes it even better.
This Rockville team is special. Its athletes have been to the state finals in football, and won sectionals in baseball too.
They can go down as one of the school's best teams ever. All that stands in their way is the 99th Indiana High School Athletic Association's boy's basketball sectionals first round.
Should they get by that opening round, anything can happen. From the looks of this Rockville's team I think they can do just that and even more!
The Rox finish the season at 18-3 and Wabash River Conference Champions. It's their second title of the year, having won the Banks of the Wabash tourney earlier in the year.
The Rox will open play in next week's North Vermillion Class 1A sectional. They will play in Tuesday's opener.
The Rox have wins over every team in the sectional and the best record. Turkey Run comes next with a 14-8 mark.
Terre Haute South finished at 18-4 and will open sectional play at crosstown rival Terre Haute North.
The loss to the smaller school, coupled with the loss of star senior guard Jake Odum, and it could be a short ride for the Braves.
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