Robbie Rockwell Drops 34 Points on No. 14 Jarrell to Send No. 3 Tatum to 2A Region III Championship
NACOGDOCHES — The scouting report has been out for a while, but lately, it doesn’t seem to matter. Robbie Rockwell will make you pay.
Tatum’s junior perimeter gunner hit seven three-pointers in a 34-point effort to lead the third-ranked Eagles to a 61-44 victory against No. 14 Jarrell in Friday’s Class 2A Region III semifinal at SFA’s William R. Johnson Coliseum.
Tatum (31-9) plays No. 2 White Oak in Saturday’s noon Region III championship at SFA. White Oak beat Tatum 59-54 in White Oak on Jan. 9 and 63-62 on a buzzer-beating tip-in Feb. 2 in Tatum.
Rockwell’s regional semifinal outburst is his second 30-point performance of the playoffs. He hit a career-high 11 treys in a 38-point effort in Tatum’s first-round blowout of Hawkins. Rockwell, who’s averaging 23.0 points in the playoffs, has made 24 three-pointers in four postseason contests.
“I knew I was gonna feel it coming into the game,” Rockwell said. “I put up a lot of shots before the game. I did my form shooting and just knew what I had to do to win and stay hot.”
Jarrell (31-4) tied Tatum early in the second half, but the Eagles held the Cougars to four points in the third quarter’s final 6 1/2 minutes to take a 43-30 lead to the fourth. Tatum’s Cole Hughes fouled out with 6:13 left and Javolick Garrett, the Eagles’ top scorer last two games, had four fouls when Jarrell made one final run, cutting Tatum’s lead to 45-40 with 6:24 remaining.
But Rockwell answered with a triple, and Garrett scored on an acrobatic, from-the-hip flip layup to finish a drive for a 50-41 lead with 3:02 to play. Rockwell then delivered the dagger on a right-corner three off a Garrett assist, putting the Eagles ahead double figures, 53-42, with 1:44 left. Garrett, Klifton Willis, and Rockwell hit 6 of 6 free-throw attempts the rest of the way to ice the game.
Garrett had another strong game despite picking up his third foul late in the first quarter. That kept him out of the game the rest of the half, but he came back with a vengeance in the second half, scoring 13 of his 16 points.
“I had to play it safe. I knew the team was counting on me to come back, and I had to do what I had to do,” Garrett said. “The fouls, they were scary because I thought I was gonna be out.”
Tatum’s typical pressure defense hounded Jarrell the entire game, forcing 28 turnovers and holding the Cougars to 10-for-31 shooting. Morgan Cooper led Jarrell with 15 points, while Landon Ledbetter added 10 points. James Klelpac had eight points and five rebounds.
Tatum’s Jahee Johnson didn’t score, but played well in other facets with a team-high five boards, three assists, two blocks, and two steals.
Tatum jumped to a 16-7 first-quarter lead, but Jarrell staged an 8-0 run to cut the Eagles’ lead to one point early in the second. Jarrell’s only lead was 2-0 almost two minutes into the game. Tatum led 26-24 at halftime before Jarrell tied the game 74 seconds into the second half, but the Eagles outscored the Cougars 17-4 the rest of the period.
Class 2A Region III
No. 3 Tatum 61, No. 14 Jarrell 44
SFA’s William R. Johnson Coliseum, Nacogdoches
Jarrell — 11 13 6 14 — 44
Tatum — 16 10 17 18 — 61
Jarrell (31-4) — Morgan Cooper 15, Landon Ledbetter 10, James Klepac 8, Wesley Alvarez 6, Tony Brown 3, Houston Stewart 2.
Tatum (31-9) — Robbie Rockwell 34, Javolick Garrett 16, Cole Hughes 4, Klifton Willis 4, Shaq Johnson 3.