The Rockets beat the Panthers by 39 four days after winning the YAIAA title

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The celebration didn't last very long for Spring Grove.

The Rockets won their first YAIAA title in 45 years last Saturday but didn't spend much time reflecting on the accomplishment. According to head coach James Brooks, the team's focus shifted to the District 3 playoffs almost instantly.

"I don't think we really did that much (celebrating) after Saturday," Brooks said. "I think the guys have the same mentality I have, that we're just ready for the next game."

The Rockets didn't appear to be suffering from a championship hangover Wednesday, as they beat Central Dauphin East, 66-27, at home in the first round of the District 3 Class AAAA playoffs. Spring Grove will now play J.P. McCaskey in the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Dallastown High School.

Wednesday's win also guaranteed the Rockets a berth in the state playoffs, as the top eight teams in Class AAAA qualify. When asked about that accomplishment, James Brooks barely cracked a smile.

"If we get to where we want, you'll see a lot of excitement from us," Brooks said. "We'll be acting like fools and running around like our heads are cut off. Right now, we're just ready to go on to the next one."

It didn't take long for Spring Grove (22-2) to take control of Wednesday's game. Eli Brooks got the crowd on its feet with a breakaway dunk in the opening minute, and the Rockets led by 14 after the first quarter.

With Central Dauphin East (14-9) struggling from the field all night, the Rockets had no trouble maintaining a lead. Their 15-point halftime advantage grew to 27 by the end of the third and ended up at 39 by the end of the night.

While Brooks was his usual self and finished with 22 points, Spring Grove got balanced scoring from its entire lineup. All 10 Rockets who saw the floor scored at least once.

"We always know that Eli is going to be a part of everything we do," James Brooks said. "Everybody is drawn to him, and he fed people for the shots they can make. That's where we're going to see high percentage."

After scoring just four points and fouling out of the Rockets YAIAA title game win over Central York on Saturday, Darin Gordon had a bounce-back performance Wednesday night. The senior finished with 13 points and was a force on the boards all game.

Gordon also spent most of Wednesday guarding 6-foot-9 forward Brennen Jackson, who finished with just seven points.

"I talked to coach before the game and he was like, "You didn't really have the game you expected to have in the (league) championship,'" Gordon said. "He always tells us not to make a game more than it is or less than it is. I knew there were stakes tonight, but I just wanted to treat it like a normal game."

Central Dauphin East (27)

Robinson 1 1-1 3, Cooper 2 0-0 4, Henry 1 0-0 2, Gillis 1 2-2 4, Neibauer 0 0-0 0, Jackson 3 1-1 7, Chandler 1 0-0 2, Hawthorne 1 1-2 3, Livingston 1 0-0 2. Totals — 11 5-6 27

Spring Grove (66)

Eli Brooks 9 2-2 22, Darin Gordon 6 0-0 13, Wierman 2 0-0 5, Flaherty 1 0-0 2, Sager 2 0-0 4, Drew Gordon 4 1-1 9, Panter 2 0-1 4, Messersmith 1 0-0 3, Bellamy 1 0-0 2, Sterner 1 0-0 2. Totals — 29 3-4 66

Central Dauphin East _ 4 _ 11 _ 8 _ 4 _ — _ 27

Spring Grove _ 18 _ 12 _ 20 _ 16 _ — _ 66

3-point goals — Spring Grove 5 (Brooks 3, Darin Gordon, Wierman, Messersmith) .

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