Flyin’ to the Hoop: Trotwood-Madison topped by Pace Academy

KETTERING – Rocky Rockhold’s young Trotwood-Madison basketball team has that dangerous-at-tournament-time look. But their youth showed Monday at the Premier Health Flyin’ To The Hoop showcase at Trent Arena.

The Rams (7-5) started slow, played well in the second quarter, then melted in the third quarter and lost 80-53 to Pace Academy of Atlanta.

“We played soft today, came out timid and I thought we let their size bother us,” Rockhold said. “We just didn’t play aggressive early.”

Call it growing pains, immaturity, etc. The Rams started three sophomores, two juniors and brought sophomores off the bench. They gave up 15 offensive rebounds and committed 24 turnovers in the halfcourt against a zone press they practiced for all week.

“I love this team,” Rockhold said. “They play hard, and you can see they didn’t quit today, they kept coming at them. But we’ve got a lot of growing to do. Our basketball IQ has to increase, but the other piece of it is just how hard you have to play consistently to be great.”

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.

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