Rockdale boys get revenge, blow out rival Heritage

CONYERS -- Perhaps Rockdale isn't quite ready to relinquish the title of top boys basketball team in the county.

Less than a month after losing to Heritage for the first time since 2008, the Bulldogs returned the favor Saturday, getting 20 points each from LaRonte Parks and Darious Mitchell in a dominant 75-52 victory.

Rockdale knocked down 13 3-pointers -- five each from Parks and Mitchell -- and played excellent defense in defeating its crosstown rival for the 10th time in the last 11 meetings.

The game was tied at 21-21 after one quarter, but the second belonged to Rockdale. While the Bulldogs' defense clamped down and allowed just two field goals, Parks hit two of his four 3-pointers in the half, one off a beautiful offensive set that ended with Darryle Tucker finding Parks wide open in the corner. That was part of a 19-5 run that sent Rockdale into the locker room up 40-26.

Rockdale continued to feed Parks and Mitchell in an overwhelming third quarter, while Heritage could only muster three field goals and trailed 60-35 heading to the fourth.

For Rockdale, Connor Ferrell added 16 points and C.J. Wilson, 12. Eric McIver led Heritage with 12 points, but was a nonfactor for large stretches of the game and couldn't duplicate the dominant effort of 21 points and nine rebounds in the December win over the Bulldogs.

In the opener, it took the Rockdale girls a little over two quarters to take their first lead, but once the Bulldogs went ahead, they never trailed again. Breanna Richardson scored 10 points in the third quarter, part of a 23-2 run, and Bianca Riley scored 17 points in a 44-41 victory.

Che Hardaway hit a 3-pointer in the corner with 11 seconds left that got the host Patriots to within 44-41. Following a timeout, Rockdale turned the ball over on an inbound pass. That gave Heritage one final possession to potentially tie the game, but Riley blocked Hardaway's jumper, one of eight blocked shots for Rockdale, and Aujana Dawkins got off a 3-pointer at the buzzer that rattled off the rim."We were just a little short tonight," first-year Heritage coach Lauren Chambers said.Rockdale's long run, capped by Riley finding Richardson for a three-pointer, made it 33-22 with 2 minutes to play in the third. Heritage didn't quit, going on a run of its own, a 10-0 spurt, that made it a one-point game. That's as close as Heritage would get as Riley hit the last of her three shots from behind the arc to keep some distance between the two crosstown rivals.

Heritage led for much of the first half, but the visiting Bulldogs erased a 10-point deficit with a second quarter run. Sierra Crosson had a bucket off an entry pass from Dawkins that put Heritage up 20-10 with 5:15 left in the half. In between, Riley got hot, helping bring Rockdale back.

The freshman had a pretty floater in the lane, then drained consecutive three-pointers midway through the second. Another freshman, Sydney Fields, and Sojourner Hall each had an offensive rebound, the first Fields put back to make it 20-17, and the last of which Hall corralled and fed freshman Jaycie Williams for a tying three-pointer. That basket came at the 2:22 mark, but the teams went scoreless the rest of the half.

Rockdale didn't get its first points until nearly four minutes into the game, getting a putback by Brianna Patton at the 4:24 mark. Heritage led by as many 11 points in the opening half as Hardaway, who along with Dawkins led Heritage with 13 points, knocked down a mid-range jumper to put the Patriots up 18-7. The offense went cold after that, though, as Heritage scored just two points over the next 9:30.)