No. 13 Rowlett Knocks Out Longview in First-Round Playoff Meeting, 74-55
LINDALE -- Behind a trio of Division I signees, Rowlett had little problem dispensing of Longview 74-55 in Tuesday's Class 5A Region II bi-district playoff in Lindale.
Rowlett seniors Jeffery Carroll, Nathan Hawkins, and Austin Luke led the attack for the District 11-5A co-champion Eagles (26-3), who play Dallas Skyline or Plano East in an area playoff later this week.
Carroll, an Oklahoma State signee, poured in a game-high 23 points. Hawkins, a 6-foot-6 Nebraska signee, added 18 points and a team-high eight rebounds, while Luke, a Belmont signee, had six points, six assists, and two steals. Teammate Kanard Robinson had 13 points and a pair of steals.
"We started out with a good run," said Rowlett coach Stan Blackmon. "Then we got away from what we were doing. Turning the ball over, ill-fated shots. We came in at halftime, regrouped, then we came out (in the second half) and did what we were supposed to do. Blocking out, hitting free throws, and ended up with a dominant win."
When asked what it's like to boast a lineup of three D-I prospects, Blackmon said," It makes it a lot easier. I told one of my assistants, 'It doesn't even feel like we're coaching these guys.' It's just so easy. It's good to have three guys on the floor who know what they are doing, can execute, and create a shot, and know what they're doing down the stretch."
Longview (20-15) was led by Jordan Whitaker's 11 points, while Cadell Williams had nine points and nine boards. Guard Stephon Anthony and post Zaycoven Henderson combined for 15 points.
"I thought near the end of the half, we got into some one-on-one situations where we started rushing some shots, which has been our Achilles heel the whole time," said Longview coach Billy Goffney. "We got away from working it down inside and getting some high percentage shots, which could get us to the line. We missed a lot of shots around the bucket in the first half. That was the difference in the game. Those give you some momentum and confidence. More than that, it keeps you close."
Longview kept it close early with free throw shooting. The Lobos went 10-for-11 from the charity stripe in the first half. They finished 25-for-32 in the contest.
Williams hit a jumper in the lane that brought Longview within four points, 21-17, in the second quarter. That's as close as Longview got. Rowlett's Christoper Heath found Hawkins for a layup in transition at the 30-second mark of the second quarter and the Eagles took a 37-28 lead to halftime.
Rowlett opened the second half with a 13-3 run, which started when Hawkins threaded the needle to Carroll on the break for a 39-28 lead. Moments later, Hawkins found Carroll again, this time for an alley-oop dunk and a 48-31 advantage. A Robinson steal and layup capped the run and gave Rowlett a 50-31 third-quarter edge.
"The good thing about it, we only had one senior. There's a learning curve you must go through," Goffney said. "We've been in the playoffs and now we'll have a seasoned ball club coming back next year."