Rose Hill knocks off second straight ranked team

Lionel Tipton

MULVANE – All in all, one could say it was a pretty good week for Rose Hill’s boys basketball team.

On Tuesday, the Rockets dispatched fourth-ranked (Class 4A) Augusta, 71-58, on their home floor.

Rose Hill (9-5) then traveled Friday to face No. 2 Mulvane and survived a fierce battle for a 68-60 triumph – the Rockets’ fourth straight victory.

“We found a way (Friday night),” Rockets Head Coach Josh Shirley said. “We struggled at times. They’re a heck of a team. They’re as good as they are for a reason."

Shirley said he knew his team was capable of victories like those this week.

“We’ve known we had the capabilities,” he said. “We’ve just got to play together, come together and work together. We’re starting to get a little as a team, showing a little better on the floor now.”

Perhaps most importantly, the road triumph avenged an earlier 63-58 home loss to Mulvane in December.

As if there weren’t enough drama Friday night, the two schools are less than a 15-minute drive from each other. Shirley, who played high school ball at Rose Hill, said he knows that all too well.

“Mulvane-Rose Hill: It’s a battle every single time you step on the floor,” Shirley said. “Throw records out the window, whatever the sport is. It’s a rivalry, for sure.

“It’s been that way ever since I played at Rose Hill, and I remember the rivalry. It just keeps fueling, and fueling, and fueling it.

“We’re happy we got out on top this time.”

Junior guard Adriel Smith, who had 31 points against Augusta, nearly matched that total Friday, finishing with 29 points – 15 in the critical fourth quarter. He managed 18 in the first matchup against Mulvane.

Unlike his previous two games, Smith got off to a strong start, scoring 12 of Rose Hill’s 29 first-half points. 

“We wanted to get him rolling a little bit early and try to get him some looks and try to get him some chances to get to the bucket, use the athleticism that we know he has,” Shirley said. “That was our plan early on, and it paid off.”

Hard work and preparation paved the way for the Rockets, Smith said.

“Two big wins for this week,” he said. “We prepared all week, and we just wanted to come out here and lay it all on the line for our city, our town, do what we had to do.

“We want everybody to know that we are a force to be reckoned with in 4A. I want to come out here and make a statement that I’m one of the top players in the state as well. That’s what we came out here and did (Friday night).”

He got needed support from sophomore Kellan Simoneau, who hit four three-pointers in the game and finished 14 points, six in the final period.

“He had what, three (three-pointers) from the same spot and another one in the second half?” Smith said. “He was real big for us.”

It’s a matter of rhythm for Simoneau, Shirley said. 

“When he gets in a rhythm – he did against Chanute early in the year when he got into that rhythm (24 points) – then he starts hitting shots and hitting shots and hitting shots. He’s tough to stop when he starts hitting shots like that.”

At 9-5, Rose Hill isn’t likely to be ranked very soon, but it does give the Rockets the ability to sneak up on teams that take them too lightly.

“We’ll be all right,” Smith said. “We’ll take whatever seeding we get, and we’ll be ready to play. We feel like we can compete with anybody every night.”

Mulvane senior guard Trey Abasolo was held scoreless in the first quarter and had just six first-half points. But he scored 16 in the final period, when Mulvane mounted a furious comeback, finishing with a team-high 22. In the first meeting, Abasolo torched the Rockets for 40 points.

It was a grueling, physical battle, with both sides’ supporters screaming for foul calls. In all, Mulvane was whistled for 22 fouls to Rose Hill’s 20. Rockets starter Kobe Koehler, who had 17 points in the December game, was plagued by foul trouble. He picked up four fouls in the first half and eventually fouled out. Mulvane junior Landon Coe picked up his fourth foul midway through the third quarter but managed to stay eligible the rest of the game. He was crucial for the Wildcats during the third quarter, scoring all 10 of his points in the period, during which Mulvane put up 19 points.

Next week, the Rockets will play host to Wellington on Tuesday and Clearwater on Friday, teams they beat by 4 and 1 points respectively, in the first matchup.

Rose Hill boys 68, Mulvane 60

Rose Hill 9;20;10;29 – 68

Mulvane 10;10;19;21 – 60

ROSE HILL: Smith 9 (1) 8-13 29, Simoneau 0 (4) 2-3 14, Landrie 1(1) 5-8 10, Earsery 0(2) 0-0 6, Nolan 1 3-4 5, Koehler 1 0-0 2, Brownlee 0 2-2 2. Totals 12(8) 20-30 68.

MULVANE: T. Abasolo 6(2) 4-5 22, K. Abasolo 2(2) 1-2 11, L. Coe 5 0-5 10, Comer 4 2-6 10, Ellis 1(1) 1-2 6, J. Coe 0 1-2 1. Totals 18(5) 9-22 60.