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Spokane keeps it close, but Rocha and Panthers prove to be too much

By Brian Hall

Numbers don’t tell you everything.

Looking at the records for Spokane and Forsyth before tonight’s SWCL Conference game, 3-9 and 7-4, and you expect a Forsyth win.  They did, 91-74.  But that really doesn’t show how close the game was, for three quarters anyway.

Forsyth stated the game on a 15-4 run.  But a rash of turnovers allowed Spokane to climb back into the game.  The Panthers had eight turnovers in the frame.

The early lead was something of an anomaly in the Panthers season.  “Coming into tonight we’ve been starting games very slowly, very slowly,” said Panthers head coach Joshua Hart.  “Our goal was to win the first quarter.”

And they did, but not by much.

PHOTOS: SPOKANE VS. FORSYTH

The Owls couldn’t get going offensively as a team early.  Clayton Moore carried the scoring load for the most part.  He tallied the first six points for Spokane.  His teammates started chipping in later in the quarter and closed out the first period only down four at 18-14.  Moore had 22 points to pace the Owls.

The second period began much as the first ended as Spokane narrowed the gap to one point in the first 30 seconds.  Spokane head coach, Kyle Johnson, credited his team’s never-say-die attitude.  “We battle.  We fight.  We’re very competitive.  We’re not giving up when we get down and it says a lot about our guys,” said Johnson.  “I’m really proud of them for that.”

Spokane (3-10; 0-2) took the lead on a 3-pointer by Moore at the 4:22 mark.  But after a six point run by the Panthers, The Owls again found themselves down by five with half the quarter gone.

Down and far from out, Spokane hung in there the slow and steady way: they made free throws.  The connected on 11-of-12 from the line in the quarter and were 21-for-24 in the game.  A long range shot from Isaiah Bean and one as time expired in the half from Chase Horton gave the Owls a 42-41 lead.  Bean finished with 14 points and Horton scored 21.

The third quarter was played pretty even as well.  Forsyth got up seven at one point, but two three point baskets by Spokane—one of those a 3/4 court shot by Trenton Stone as time expired—knotted the score at 64.

Forsyth (8-4; 2-0) erupted in the fourth quarter.  Five different players scored in the first two minutes of the period and the Panthers were up 10 points.  Then came the Micaiah Rocha Show.  Rocha finished out the scoring for the Panthers running up 15 consecutive points.  He finished with 34 points to lead all scorers.

“I couldn’t have been happier,” said Rocha.  “Coach Hart wants me to take it to the hole and score as much as I can.  It was a good team win.”

Coach Hart was very complimentary of Rocha.  “I think he’s one of the best guards in the conference.  Clever and Crane have great teams, Blue Eye has some good guards, but I’d take Micaiah over anyone.  He’s a good all-around player.  He can play on the perimeter or get to the rim and obviously he can finish when he’s down on the inside.”

The Owls could only muster 3 field goals in the fourth quarter.  “I think we ran out of gas,” said Coach Johnson.  “I asked them to press and do a lot of things and they responded well but we just ran out of gas.”

Spokane will host Greenwood on Friday; Forsyth will also get back at it on Friday hosting Bakersfield.

Spokane:  14, 28, 22, 10 — 74
Forsyth:    18, 23, 23, 27 — 91

Spokane: Bean, 14; Brown, 4; Horton, 21; Moore, 22; Rigdon, 4; Stone, 9
Forsyth: Coker, 2; Davidson, 15; Davis, 2; Henson, 11; Mann, 14; Rocha, 34; Stanford, 10