MERCERSBURG - We've all heard the phrase, "There's no 'I' in 'team.'"
James Buchanan's boys basketball team takes that motto to heart. The Rockets looked like a well-oiled machine Wednesday night in a non-league game against District 5 powerhouse Southern Fulton, and it resulted in a key 52-44 victory to surge the Rockets into District 3 playoffs with some momentum.
"I think it gives us some confidence, and more importantly, we got back to the way we know how to play on the defensive side of the ball," JB coach Larry Strawoet said. "That has been our trademark all season, and to see us get to that point tonight, that was big for us. There is no one player that can take us to the next level; it has to be us as a group."
The Rockets (13-9) were also helped along by an off night for Southern Fulton (18-4), which scored fewer points than it has in more than a month.
"We just didn't have it tonight," Indians coach Kent Hendershot said. "We didn't have any intensity with anything we did. They played a very good game, were very fundamental and executed on both sides of the floor. We just didn't do what we needed to do to win that game."
After being tied 11-11 at the end of the first quarter, the Rockets slowly but surely started to build a sizable lead. JB came out in the second quarter on an 8-1 run, helped along by a pair of Gage Piper 3-pointers. By halftime, SF trailed by four, and heading into the final quarter, it faced a six-point deficit despite ending the third with five straight points.
"I think I attribute it to us playing loose," Strawoet said. "Our guys were just having fun with the game. I think you could see that in their faces tonight, and that takes the pressure off of them. They just played together, had some fun with the game and played hard. What else can you ask for?"
The Indians didn't go down without a fight, though. They pulled it as close as four points with under a minute to go on a Zach Clark longball, but the Rockets, namely Zach Vosburg, were clutch from the free-throw line to ensure the victory. Vosburg went 8-for-10 from the charity stripe in the final frame; the rest of the team was 3-for-8.
"I was feeling it from the line, and everyone else was too, but some of my teammates were missing them," Vosburg said. "I just kept trying to get open so they could get me the ball, because I knew they were going to foul, and I could make 'em."
There was one big bright spot for SF, and it came in form of Dylan Gordon. He contributed more than 50 percent of the Indians' offense and finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
"As much as we like to see that, we need better production from everyone else," Hendershot said. "He tried to put us on his shoulders and help us tonight, but the supporting cast just didn't do it. We were flat tonight, and that was everybody with the exception of Dylan."
Notes: Piper finished as JB's leading scorer with 19 points that including five 3-pointers and tied a career high ... Vosburg also tied his career-high with 15 points ... The loss snaps a nine-game win streak for the Indians and could cost them the No. 1 spot in the District 5 Class A playoffs if McConnellsburg wins its last two games against Tussey Mountain and Fannett-Metal.
James Buchanan 52, Southern Fulton 44
Southern Fulton (44)
Carl Potter 1 2-2 5, Zach Clark 1 0-0 3, Dylan Gordon 7 11-14 26, Trent Rider 1 0-0 3, Branden Lynch 1 0-0 2, Owen Hawkins 1 1-2 4, Logan Beatty 0 1-2 1, Chase Varner 0 0-0 0, Dylan Enzor 0 0-0 0. Totals — 12 15-20 44.
James Buchanan (52)
Gage Piper 6 2-6 19, Zach Vosburg 3 9-12 15, Toby Sowers 3 0-0 7, Hunter Sowers 2 0-0 4, Ryan Hege 2 1-2 5, Kyle Buchanan 1 0-0 2, Jared Pine 0 0-1 0, Cody Tacker 0 0-0 0. Totals — 17 12-21 52.
So. Fulton _ 11 _ 8 _ 12 _ 13 _ — _ 44
J. Buchanan _ 11 _ 12 _ 14 _ 15 _ — _ 52
3-point goals — SF 5 (Potter, Clark, Gordon, Rider, Hawkins), JB 6 (Piper 5, T.Sowers).