By Thomas Sellers Jr.
MEMPHIS — High school players read the newspaper and check out the internet to scout their next opponent.
Some of the Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels acknowledged they were anticipating a quick win walking into the Central Baptist Gymnasium last Thursday night. But the host Swordsmen’s play in the first quarter didn’t reflect their record taking a 7-6 with less than 3 minutes remaining.
The Rebels closed out the first quarter on a 6-0 run and used a big second quarter to post a 60-26 victory over Central Baptist.
“I think we came expecting an easy win,” TRA Rebel Connor Alexander said. “So we came out a little lackadaisical. It took a minute for everyone to warm up and start playing.”
Rebel Head Coach Jason Morgan gave his players one simple command, feed the ball inside to Matt Moody. Earlier this month Moody became the third TRA Basketball player to reach the 1,000-point career plateau. Over the years the senior forward has scored a majority of those points in the paint.
Against Central Baptist Moody went to his familiar territory to make a reverse layup to regain the lead for the Rebels at 8-7. Moody closed out the final seconds of the first quarter with a bucket giving TRA a 12-7 advantage.
“We got the ball inside to Matt and started working inside out,” Alexander noted. “He got the monkey off his back (scoring 1,000 points) and he’s been a lot looser. It’s helped him step up his offense and his defense.”
The inside/out offense and defensive pressure allowed TRA to outscore the Swordsmen 21-0 in the second quarter. The run got started with a Johnie Sanfratello three-pointer.
Moments later Alexander displayed his long-range shooting with a trey to make the score 18-7. Then Alexander drove to the rim for layup to make the tally 20-7.
The Rebels worked the ball back inside to Moody with the power forward scoring and drawing a foul for a three-point play.
With Central Baptist refocused on Moody, the ball was worked around the perimeter giving Logan Stewart a good look at a three-pointer he drained.
Ahead 28-7 Stewart stole the ball and located Alexander racing to the basket for a layup. The first half concluded with Alexander hitting bucket leading to a three-point play.
The Rebels continued the offensive onslaught in the third quarter with Zach Dickson hitting a couple of three pointers. TRA was ahead 47-18 after three quarters. The Rebels outscored Central Baptist 13-8 in the fourth quarter to win 60-26.
Before heading to Dyersburg this weekend for its annual Christmas tournament, the Rebels had a week off for the holiday.
“(Coach) made sure we know that the gym is open,” Alexander said. “And he gave us a six-mile challenge to run while we’re off to keep us in shape and make sure we’re ready for our Christmas tournament.”
Alexander said the Christmas Tournament will prepare the Rebels for the upcoming league schedule. The point guard said experience should be on TRA’s side come this January and February.
“Having a lot of seniors this year will be a real positive,” he concluded. “We know we can win instead of just thinking we can win.”