Tag: Joel Gray

female basketball players

The Rockets and Pioneers Meet Again

By Joel Gray

Harrison, AR—SAU Tech traveled to North Arkansas on Saturday (2/16) for a much-anticipated rematch with the Pioneers, after falling to them at home just fifteen days earlier when the Lady Rockets lost a hard-fought, back-and-forth game with the #6 Lady Pioneers, 64-58, and the Rocket Men came up short to the NorthArk men in an even closer contest, 97-95.

The second time around was just as intense as the first, as these squads of the Region 2 Conference’s finest fell right into step where they’d left off in their first meetings. The women’s game was almost a replay of the showdown in Shaddock Fieldhouse, and the #6 NorthArk women pulled it out once again in the Pioneer Pavilion, 76-67. The men, too, seemed destined to repeat themselves, going into halftime tied up on the scoreboard just as they had in Camden, but the Rockets roared out of the locker room and reversed the previous outcome, this time getting the victory, 113-101.

The night’s first game featured the Lady Rockets trailing by 3 points at the end of the 1st quarter, 16-13, but fighting back for a 2-point lead at intermission, 36-34. In the 3rd quarter, the teams played almost even, ending with the Tech women still holding onto a narrow 1-point advantage, 53-52. But in the final period, the #6 Lady Pioneers outscored the Rockets, 24-14, to set the 9-point difference in their favor.

NorthArk improved to 21-5 overall, and—more importantly—4-0 in Region 2 play, removing any doubt that they are the justified champions of the conference despite being the only team eligible for the title. Three Lady Pioneers put double-digits on the scoreboard, with Grace Coates topping her teammates with a total of 23.

SAU Tech fell to 10-6 overall, and 1-2 in league play, while placing three scorers in double- digits. Brandashia Hargraves led the way with 22 points, of which 12 came from beyond the arc as she sank four 3-pointers. Alex Parris was next with 17, followed by Haggar Caldwell with 12.

The Lady Rockets will close out their first season of basketball by hosting the final Region 2 game for themselves and the National Park Lady Nighthawks, at Shaddock Fieldhouse in Camden, AR, on Thursday, 2/28. Tip-off is set for 5 pm.

After the women’s game, the men took to the floor of Pioneer Pavilion, and it seemed at first that NorthArk would run away and win easily this time, as they jumped out to a 20-point lead, 32-12, within the first ten minutes of the 1st half. But the Rockets regrouped, and by halftime they had drawn even for a tie, 42-42. Then, after the break, the Tech men blasted the boards on the strength of the 2nd half play of Malik Miller, Jaland Mitchell, and Mike Boatright, who helped their team to outscore NorthArk 71-59 the rest of the way.

The Pioneers dropped to 19-10 and 3-3, despite having four players with double-digits, and three with multiple 3-pointers. Not even the outstanding play of Garrett Kesterson, who led his team with 28 points, including an impressive 7 treys, could keep NorthArk from coming up 12 points short of the Rockets.

With the terrific win, SAU Tech improved to 17-9 overall, and 3-1 in the R2C. Four Rockets racked-up 10 points or more, led by Miller’s 29—21 of which came in the 2nd half. Sheldon Steven was next with 25, including five 3-pointers. Then it was Mitchell (19—15 in the 2nd half), followed by Boatright (16—10 in the 2nd half). Miller and Boatright also had 2-treys each.

The SAU Tech men next travel to Poplar Bluff, MO for a non-conference rematch with Division-I Three Rivers College, on Tuesday, 2/19. Tip-off is at 7 pm.

rocket team playing

Rocket Men Take the Win Saturday

by Joel Gray

Camden, AR—In a rare break from brutal scheduling, Head Coach Marty Levinson’s 12-8 SAU Tech men played host to 20-10 Mid-South Prep out of Memphis, TN on Saturday night (1/26), and the results could not have been more welcome for the home team. The Rockets soared to a highly- satisfying victory over the visiting Wildcats, winning by a score of 108-74.

The over-matched Mid-South squad managed to place three players in double-digit scoring, with Tristan Evans’ impressive 30 points topping his teammates. The Wildcats also had three with multiple buckets from beyond the arc. Jaylin Sneed captured that category with 4 treys to his credit.

The contest, however, was completely controlled by Tech throughout, seeing them surpass the century mark on the scoreboard for the second time this season. Four Rockets racked-up double-digits, led by Mike McAllister-Boatright’s 23 points. He was followed by Will Bynum, with 18; Immanuel Anderson, with 17; and Malik Miller, with 12. McAllister-Boatright also sank an amazing 7 3-pointers, while Bynum found the bucket for 4 more.

With the loss, Mid-South dropped to 20-11 on the season, while the Rockets improved to 13-8 with the win. Now it’s back to Division-II play as Tech prepares to host fellow Region 2 Conference member North Arkansas College on Friday, Feb. 1, inside Shaddock Fieldhouse in Camden.

coach and basketball players

Rockets take on Bulldogs with no Success

By Joel Gray

Goodman, MS—The NJCAA DIV.-II SAU-Tech Rockets men’s basketball team surged out to an unlikely 4-game winning streak against DIV.-I competition to start their very first season on the court. Now, however, they are in somewhat of a mid-season slump after losing six of their last eight games— all, but one, of those losses coming on the road, versus D-I opponents—including Saturday’s match-up with the Holmes Community College Bulldogs. No doubt, still stinging from a painful homecoming loss to Copiah-Lincoln—in overtime—Head Coach Marty Levinson and the Rocket men now had to gird themselves to go back out onto the road again, this time to face the D-I Preseason #13 team in the nation.

The Bulldogs came in with a record of 5-2, with their only two missteps being by a combined margin of a mere 10 points. They were at home in the Frank Branch Coliseum, and certainly mindful that this would be their last outing before the first regular-season poll comes out on Tues., Dec. 4. Surely, they hoped to perform well enough to not only maintain the #13 spot but to improve upon it as well.

The Rockets, though, had other ideas and set out to force the Bulldogs to earn any advantage they obtained. Initially, it was a fairly even-handed struggle for hardwood supremacy, each team making a long run against the other, and the lead bouncing back and forth between them four different times. By the end of the 1st half, however, the Tech men trailed by ten, 46-36. The 2nd half saw the Bulldogs begin to pull away, and by the final buzzer, the Rockets had lost even more ground on the scoreboard, losing by 21 points to Holmes, 87-66, and upping the Bulldogs’ record to 6-2 on the season.

Holmes had four men to score in the double-digits, with Kassim Nicholson on top with 16. Jaylen Lester also sank two 3-pointers for the Bulldogs. As a team, they snapped up 43 rebounds, had 17 assists, and committed 21 turnovers. Tech recorded three players in the double-digit category. Jaland Mitchell led the way with 26 points—9 of which came on his three field goals from beyond the 3-point arc. Sheldon Steven added 18 more on the strength of his four 3-pointers. And Immanuel Anderson logged 12 points as well.

The Rockets finished with 31 rebounds, 9 assists, and 22 turnovers on the evening. It was the SAU Tech men’s fourth consecutive loss, dropping them to .500 with a 6-6 record, with still five more contests scheduled with Division-I teams before play begins in their own classification this January 2019. Coach Levinson and all Rockets fans are looking for the team to reap the rewards of a ruthless early schedule. Meanwhile, however, it’s back into the breach, as they travel to Shreveport, LA for a re-match with Southern University-Shreveport, Sat., Dec. 8. Tech defeated the Jaguars earlier this season by the score of 90-85, and another close game is expected.

lady rockets

Rockets Experience Tough Homecoming

by Joel Gray

Camden, AR—Shaddock Fieldhouse was the happy site of punch and cake and college memorabilia as SAU Tech celebrated its 50th birthday with a homecoming night of basketball. Their guests from Wesson, MS, however—the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wolves—showed up to shut down the “feel-good” in the fieldhouse.

The NJCAA Division-II Rockets, in their inaugural season on the court, have battled through a brutal schedule, thus far—all Division-I opponents for the women; and nearly the same for the men. So for homecoming, one might expect to see a Prep team on the schedule, for perhaps an easy win, right? Well, not at SAU Tech. Copiah-Lincoln is another Division-I junior college, and nothing about these homecoming games was going to be easy for the Rockets.

The Lady Wolfpack came in undefeated at 6-0 and wasted no time in proving to the Rockets’ fans why that was so. They were big and strong and fast and asserted themselves from the outset. The Lady Rockets had difficulty rebounding against the Wolves, providing the visitors with multiple opportunities underneath the basket. Also, the quickness of Copiah-Lincoln was quickly realized, but not-so-quickly countered, as they continued to steal and intercept the ball throughout the contest.

The 5-1 Rockets were only trailing by 7 points at the end of the first quarter, but the Wolves stretched that to 18 by the half, then 27 by the end of the third. If there was a bright spot for the Lady Rockets at all, it was that they continued to fight, managing to outscore the Wolfpack in the fourth quarter 25-24. Nevertheless, the outcome was never really in question, and the Copiah-Lincoln ladies improved to 7-0 with the 103-77 victory over Tech.

The Lady Wolves had four players score in double-digits, with TaMara Riley leading the way with 20. They also had three players with multiple 3-pointers—Azaria Magee had three.  The Lady Rockets had three players in double-digits—Devena Smith with 26, Hagger Caldwell with 11, and Alex Parris with 11. Only McKenna Christler could sink from 3-point range, but she only managed to hit twice for 6 points.

It was a tough night for the SAU Tech women, as they suffered their 2nd loss in a row, falling to 5-2 on the season. Next for the Lady Rockets is another Division-I opponent, on the road, Sat., Dec. 1st, when they take on the 2-5 Holmes Community College Bulldogs.

As tilted as the court seemed to be during the women’s game, the balance was restored when the men took the floor. The Copiah-Lincoln men came in at 6-1, having only lost their season-opener, and they, too, proved to be big and strong and fast. The Wolves established early that lobbed passes would be promptly picked-off. But the 6-4 Rockets were ready for the challenge and played their usual style of fast and physical basketball. Immanuel Anderson’s multiple slam-dunks helped to keep the Rocket crowd roaring, and at halftime, Tech had a 1-point lead at 39-38.

The second half saw more of the same. Each team had had short runs of 6-8 points in the game, but now it was toe-to-toe and point-to-point. With the homecoming audience on their feet, it was the Rockets’ Immanuel Anderson with a last-second layup to tie the game at 79 and send it into overtime.In the additional 5 minutes, however, it was a devastating 3-pointer from the Wolves’ Miles Daniels that helped to provide a margin the Rocket men couldn’t overcome, and Copiah-Lincoln held on to get the win by the score of 91-87.

The Wolfpack improved to 7-1 with four players shooting in the double-digits. Damarius Brooks led the way with 16. They also had four with multiple 3-pointers, Miles Daniels leading the way with three—including that crucial one in overtime. The Rockets also had four players score in the double-digits: Immanuel Anderson with 23— including three slam-dunks—Sheldon Steven with 20, Mike McAllister Boatright with 17, and Malik Miller with 16. Only two Rocket men, however, could fire true from 3-point range. Sheldon Steven was accurate for four 3-pointers, and Malik Miller added one more.

It was an outstanding effort, particularly in the second half, where the Rockets had proven to have some trouble in previous games; nevertheless, it goes in the loss column. The Tech men are now 6-5, with all of their losses coming against Division-I teams. It is expected that the brutality of their early schedule will be of great benefit when Division-II divisional play begins in January.

Meanwhile, however, it doesn’t get any easier for the Rockets’ men’s team. Next—Sat., Dec. 1st—they join the Lady Rockets in Goodman, MS to take on the 5-2 Division-I Holmes CC Bulldogs. The only team to have beaten Copiah-Lincoln this season. The #13 team in the nation.