TOWANDA — Koby Campbell scored 19 points in the second half and the Rose Hill Rockets fought off a feisty Circle team to win 62-56 on Friday night in a packed Circle High gym.
“He’s [Campbell] been our guy for four years. He’s been in several big moments,” Rose Hill head coach Josh Shirley said. “He’s our guy we go to. He’s our guy we trust.”
Campbell scored 12 of the final 14 points for Rose Hill, on top of some key defensive plays. With the game in the balance midway through the fourth, Campbell’s key tip on a ball driven by Jake Shaults led to a Rose Hill possession and the eventual three-pointer by Kellan Simoneau.
The Rockets led by as many as 13 in the game and by 11 at the break but the lead would evaporate almost as quickly as the Rockets built it.
Rose Hill built a large lead as many as 13 in the first quarter but the T-Birds fought back. It was a combination of Luke Beougher and others who slowly but surely made the game back to single digits.
Beougher hit back-to-back threes late in the second quarter to bring Circle within six.
It was a healthy dose of Koby Campbell as the Rockets built an early 17-4 lead. It forced the T-Birds into an early timeout but out of the timeout, Drew Middleton hit a jumper ending the Rocket run.
Hustson and Shaults would get slow the bleeding to single digits before Kellan Simoneau, only a freshman, would nail a three, putting the Rockets lead back to double digits at 21-10.
Beougher would hit back-to-back threes would cut the lead to 24-18 with 3:36 to go in the first half.
Simoneau would hit his second three of the half, giving Rose Hill the 31-20 lead at the break.
Circle would slowly march their way back into the game on the back of Gunner Huston and Drew Middleton.
Circle tied the game up at 35-all with on a Huston three-pointer with 2:07 to go in the third and from there on out, it was as if two heavyweights were trading haymakers. Campbell would answer and Huston would respond.
Middleton hit a three to tie it up at 40-all and then the freshman Simoneau found himself in the middle of game, hitting the three to give Rose Hill the 43-40 after three quarters.
Circle’s Eli Jacobson’s layup gave the Thunderbirds their first lead for the first time since it was 2-0.
The T-Birds grabbed the 50-48 lead and it was the freshman who stepped up again. Simoneau hit the three from the left corner, giving the Rockets the lead for good. Simoneau would finish with 15 points in his varsity debut.
“We knew Kellan could shoot,” Shirley said. “It was good to finally get to see it in a varsity game.”
Rose Hill would hold Circle scoreless for almost the next four minutes as Campbell took over. He would score eight straight points before missing a free throw.
“As a group, it is really the first time they played together,” Shirley said. “I am really proud of the way they fought and battled tonight.”
Spencer Nolan played under the weather and gave more minutes than coach Shipley was expecting. Asa Vrbas contributed had 13 points to help the Rockets tonight.
Huston led the Thunderbirds with 20 points, 16 of them in the second half.
Rose Hill improves to 1-0 on the season. The schedule does not get any easier as they head to the Garden Plain tournament next week.
Rose Hill – 17; 14; 12; 19 – 62
Circle –10; 10; 20; 16 – 56
Rose Hill – Campbell 31, Vbras 13, Simoneau 12, Witt 4, Nolan 2
Circle – Huston 20, Middleton 14, Beouger 12,