OREGON, Mo. — The West Nodaway Rockets' two-game losing streak became three with an 80-52 loss to the South Holt Knights on Tuesday night. The Rockets have allowed 70 or more points in four of their last six losses going back to last season.
The Rockets have shown a tendency to start slowly this season and they did so again Tuesday night. West Nodaway dug itself into a hole early, allowing the Knights to jump out to a 5-0 lead. Tyler Blay did what he could to keep West Nodaway within striking distance, scoring the Rockets’ first eight points.
West Nodaway trailed 12-8 early in the first and that is when things took a turn for the worse. South Holt scored 18-straight to take a 30-8 lead. The Knights’ Eric Ottman was the biggest factor in the run, scoring eight-straight points in the middle of the run.
The Rockets struggled with turnovers in their overtime loss last week to Stewartsville, but their pressure defense kept that game close.
“Any coach will tell you that you can’t let a team get out to 35 points in the first quarter,” Rockets coach Kolton Jones said. “We weren’t getting back on defense and we got out-hustled.”
The Knights’ offense didn’t slow down in the second quarter with Ottman and Reagan Morris combining for 11 points. The worst thing to happen to the South Holt offense was Ottman’s failed attempt at a dunk. The big second quarter gave the Knights a 57-23 lead over the Rockets.
“We need to slow things down a little bit and just make sure we’re finding the open passes,” Tyler Blay said.
West Nodaway struggled in the third quarter to cut into the South Holt lead, but the Rockets were able to keep pace with the Knights for the first time since early in the first quarter.
“In the beginning we were horrible and then we came out after halftime and played pretty well,” Blay said. “In the third quarter we started gelling and started playing more as a team.”
The Rockets outscored the Knights 29-23 in the second half with Beason and Blay leading the way. Beason scored eight points and Blay led the team with 25 points. Blay has scored at least 20 points in every game this season.
“I work very, very hard in the offseason,” Blay said. “But I have to thank my teammates for looking for me and feeding me the ball.”
Ottman led the Knights with 23 points, but 16 of his 23 came in the first quarter. Reagan Morris was second on the team with 18 points.
“I thought we played much better in the second half than in the first half,” Jones said. “We just have to have some guys step up who want to take the leadership role, and people will follow.”
The Rockets will travel to Albany on Friday to face the Warriors who are 1-2 to start the season. Coach Jones said his team may have to get back to working on the fundamentals.
“We’re not hustling, we’re not doing the little things that will win you ball games,” Jones said. “Last year we preached rebounding, well now this year we’re rebounding, maybe we need to back up and get all the little things popping for us.”