Saturday was a prime example of how effective Rockdale’s defense can be when Darryl Tucker is at his best. Tucker had 15 points, 12 rebounds and four blocked shots and altered a number of other shots in the paint as the Bulldogs won a defensive struggle 59-52 over Heritage.
Rashad Jones, who led all scorers with 21 points, hit three free throws to give Heritage a 41-40 lead with just under seven minutes remaining in the game. But that was the last time the visitors would be in front.
On the ensuing possession, Adam Ellis grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Jalen Jordan for a 3-pointer to put Rockdale (6-10) back ahead for good. Heritage got as close as 47-46 with 4:19 to play on Jones’ last bucket. Conner Ferrell assisted on a basket by Julian McKnight, then added a nice runner in the lane and a lay up and Rockdale held a 53-46 advantage at the 2:22 mark.
Heritage erased a nine-point deficit with an 8-0 run midway through the third, tying the game at 31-31 on the second of Jones’ consecutive threes. Rockdale built its lead back up to 39-34 when Ellis had a steal and bucket.
Jordan Thomas found Trevor Campbell for a basket with three seconds left that sent Heritage into the fourth down just three, and Jones’ free throws capped a 7-1 spurt.
Rockdale had an excellent second quarter, which allowed the hosts to head into halftime with a seven-point lead.
While Heritage (14-3) got a put back by Terrell Rainey to go up 21-14 with 3:45 to play in the period, Rockdale dominated the remainder of the half. Tucker had six points, including a dunk off a feed from Jordan and Ferrell had a steal and went coast-to-coast with a difficult lay up - which gave Rockdale its first lead of the night - then completed the three-point play as part of a 14-0 half-ending run for the Bulldogs.
Rockdale’s offense got off to a slow start as Heritage grabbed a lead as large as 10 points in the first half.
Jones knocked down consecutive 3-pointers, the last of which put the visitors up 16-6 with six and a half minutes until halftime.
The Patriots only got a 3-pointer from Byron Abrams and Rainey’s put back the rest of the half.
Ferrell had 11 of his 16 points in the second half, while Jordan finished with 11 points and four assists. No other Heritage player joined Jones in double-figures, though Rainey and Isaiah Banks each added eight points.
The Rockdale girls had little trouble in the first game of the night, cruising to a 60-24 victory.
The Bulldogs (7-5) held a comfortable lead of 31-17 early in the third, but a long run turned the rivalry game into a blowout. Sydney Fields was 6-of-7 from the field and scored 14 points during a 21-0 spurt - 12 of the points came off Heritage turnovers - that put Rockdale up 52-17 with a minute and a half to go in the period.
Heritage (1-16), which was coming off its first victory of the season Wednesday against Apalachee, held a brief lead at 3-2 after Alexis Hawkins had a steal and made 1-of-2 free throws a little over a minute into the game. The Patriots’ offense struggled for the remainder of the game.
Heritage went the next 6:47 without a point, while Rockdale’s 14-0 run, capped by a banked-in 3-pointer by Casera Howard, made it a 16-3 game. Heritage guard Damali Thomas drained a 3-pointer from mid-court at the buzzer to make it a 16-6 game after one.
It was more of the same in the second quarter as Heritage didn’t score until five minutes had passed and didn’t convert a field goal attempt until Destiny Martin’s put back at the 1:50 mark. Jonai Jackson knocked down a 3-pointer and Destiny Stephens added a bucket as Rockdale built its largest lead of the half at 27-8. Heritage closed the half with five straight points, getting to within 27-13 at the break on Martin’s free throw.
Fields led all scorers with 19 points, while Sojourner Hall added 13 points for Rockdale. Thomas and Martin had five points each for Heritage.