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Stephenson pulls away from Rockdale in opener

In a season-opening match up of perennial state playoff teams, visiting Stephenson got its 2013-2014 postseason run off on the right foot.

Thomas Oglesby scored 15 points to lead a balanced attack as the Jaguars defeated Rockdale 67-43 at Cleveland Stroud Gymnasium Tuesday.

Stephenson, which is trying to get back to the state playoffs for the eighth consecutive season, led by as many as 28 points in defeating Rockdale for the second consecutive season opener.

The host Bulldogs, who have played in the postseason five consecutive seasons, got off to a strong start. Jalen Jordan assisted on a pair of baskets and scored two of his own, the last of which was a fall-away runner that fell in as the sophomore guard was headed out of bounds that gave Rockdale a 12-1 lead.

That’s when Rockdale hit a drought, not scoring a point for nearly seven minutes, and Stephenson grabbed the lead for good.

The Jaguars finally hit their first field goal - Oglesby’s lay up at the 1:57 mark of the opening quarter - that was part of a 12-0 spurt that put the DeKalb County school ahead for the first time at 13-12. Though Rockdale grabbed the lead back on a runner by Adam Ellis, it was a brief cushion. Starting with Delmont Walton’s free throw with 4:02 to play in the second quarter, Stephenson scored 14 of the final 16 points of the opening half to go into the halftime locker room up 27-16.

Rockdale’s shooting slump continued through much of the third quarter. Tajee Steele’s bucket with 3:22 left was the Bulldogs’ first field goal since 2:35 remained in the second quarter, but by that time Stephenson was comfortably ahead at 38-19.

Connor Ferrel led Rockdale with 13 points, but none came before the 2:21 mark of the third quarter. That’s when Ferrel hit his first field goal and over the final two minutes of the period the guard added a pair of free throws and a nice, baseline jumper to get the Bulldogs as close as 45-28.

Stephenson, which is led by point guard Juwan Henderson (10 points), built a lead as large as 64-36 on two of Walton’s nine points off a feed from David Burke with two minutes to go in the game. Daniel Kinchen added nine points and Tyriq Johnson added seven for Stephenson. Rockdale, which next plays in the William Avery Tip Off Classic at Evans High School this weekend, got seven points from Brian Jessie.