The Rams were down 34-18, cut it to 36-32, then let it get away at the end of the half to trail 43-32. Pace outscored the Rams 17-9 in the third to put the game away.
“We’re growing up every day and getting better day by day,” said sophomore guard Delamar Blanton. “We’ve just got stay locked in, stay together and the future will be bright. It starts with playing hard, having heart and not being scared.”
Bright spots exist the baby Rams. Blanton and fellow soph Timothy Carpenter are scorers and learning to become leaders. Blanton, a 6-foot-2 guard, scored 19 of his 23 points in the first half with slashing moves to the basket and two 3-pointers. Carpenter scored 19 and had eight rebounds.
Blanton, who has been called Marrmarr since he was little, is playing for the first time since eighth grade. A calf injury at the end of his freshman football season caused blood clots and he missed the entire basketball season.
“At first I was real emotional,” Blanton said. “I didn’t even want to go to high school games. As I started going to games, I got my joy back for it. When I got on the court in the summer, I was super excited to be back out there.”
Rockhold felt terrible for Blanton last year and the year of basketball he missed. This year he’s pushing Blanton and the others to play smarter. Blanton committed seven turnovers Sunday, but it doesn’t worry Rockhold.
“He hasn’t played since his eighth-grade year – that’s a big jump,” Rockhold said. “As a sophomore, how do I lead? You’ve got to learn from the guys who laid the ground in front of you. He’ll learn that.”
Rockhold said his team historically has begun to play its best basketball after Flyin’. He hopes for the same result again as he primes his team for the Division II tournament.
“Our style bugs people,” Rockhold said of his team’s fast-paced offense and speed-you-up defense. “You just don’t see it. I really hope we’ll be a tough out. We’re definitely not going to be at the top of the seedings list, and that’s OK.”
Flyght 68, Cincinnati Taft 63: Dayton-based Flyght Academy Prep answered the call for a second time this weekend and filled in for a team that couldn’t make it. And this time they won, knocking off Division III power Taft and four-star junior Rayvon Griffith, who scored 28 points.
Former West Carrollton and Stivers star Allen Lattimore led Flyght with 16 points, and Anthony McComb, who played at Thurgood Marshall and Trotwood scored 11. Flyght made 8 of 18 3-pointers.
Mekhi Elmore, who transferred from Thurgood to Taft last year, scored 15 points.