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No horsing around
Rockdale girls, boys beat Mustangs convincingly

CONYERS - The Rockdale basketball teams are starting to reel off some impressive wins that will certainly help them come subregion play.

The Lady Bulldogs soundly defeated the McNair Lady Mustangs 58-37 while the boys used a 28-point third quarter to pull away to a 77-63 win on Friday night.

In the first game, the Rockdale girls (3-3) started off slowly but used an 8-1 run to close out the first period and build a 12-6 lead.

Porsha Cleveland's buzzer-eater at the end of the quarter capped the run and gave coach Leonard Buckner's team the momentum heading into the second period.

"I had some other girls I was trying to get into the rotation to see what they looked like," he said. "We broke down on our rotation in the press a little bit, but I wanted to get the younger girls some game experience."

The Lady Bulldogs started the second period on a 9-2 run and led 29-20 going into the locker room.

Freshman Giovanni Simms had a big third quarter as she scored six of her nine points in the period.

Fellow freshman Lauren Jackson also had a solid second half, scoring five points and snagging five rebounds.

Buckner was especially proud of his girls' effort.

"The hustle was outstanding tonight," he said. "We made some good adjustments and the kids followed direction tonight, so that was a good thing."

Miasia Burks led the Lady Bulldogs with 14 points followed by Simms' nine and Stewart's seven.

"We played with a lot of energy," Buckner said. "I know we're young, but they are getting their confidence back."

While the girls made it look easy, the boys had a tougher time with an athletic Mustang squad that refused to lie down.

The Bulldogs (5-1) traded baskets for the first three minutes until Nate Gissentaner hit back-to-back 3-pointers to spark a 10-1 run and give Rockdale a 19-11 lead after the first quarter.

But McNair came roaring back midway through the second quarter, using a mix of pressure defense and quickness to confuse the Bulldogs.

Mustang guard Jeremiah Robertson hit a 3-pointer to slice the Rockdale lead to four at 29-25 with 2:29 remaining in the half.

The game really got rolling as the two teams went back and forth with Robertson scoring 10 straight points for the Mustangs.

Robertson's second 3-pointer in less than a minute gave McNair a 34-33 lead, but an ill-advised foul as time expired allowed Rockdale's Cordarryle Vethly to sink two free throws to give the lead back to the Bulldogs heading into halftime.

"We lost the lead because I think our players lost sight of what our goal was," Rockdale boys coach Mitchell Harris said. "But I believe the players went back in there and remembered our goals and that helped."

Harris made some good adjustments as the Bulldogs came out on fire to start the second half.

Donyell Scott heated it up in the third quarter, hitting three 3-pointers, while Gissentaner sunk two.

Rockdale exploded for 28 points on the hot shooting and shut down the Mustangs with solid defense and rebounding by Darius McKnight.

McNair had no answers as the Bulldogs were in the zone. By the time the dust settled at the end of the third quarter, Rockdale enjoyed a 64-48 lead and was poised to win its fifth straight.

"We took our most athletic team and said we can win the game with intensity," Harris said. "But we have good shooters and we have to be patient. We want the double team. We don't need to go to McKnight. We have guys who can shoot."

Freshman standout Kevin Ware had another impressive game for Rockdale, scoring 17 points, including another highlight reel dunk.

"Nobody's going to stop Kevin Ware, and he's only a freshman," Harris said. "He's a ballplayer. A kid that talented, with that desire to be a team player, you have to let him play."

Gissentaner led the way for the Bulldogs with 18 points followed by Ware with 17, Scott (13) and Vethly (11).

McKnight had a solid all around game, finishing with nine points and a team-high 14 rebounds.