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Rossville routs the Cavaliers

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JUST 1 MORE: Rossville’s Kirby Meeks has one defender to beat in Tri-County’s Luke Lehe on a first-half fastbreak.
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BREAKAWAY 2: Sophomore Damon Shaw looks to finish a layup on a breakaway for Rossville during Friday’s 83-34 win over Tri-County.
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AT THE RIM: Rossville’s Dirk Shaw attacks the basket during Friday’s win over Tri-County.
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BASELINE TAKE: Rossville’s Jesse Cornell penetrates along the baseline during Friday’s win over Tri-County.

BY ANDREW KRULL - akrull@ftimes.com

Rossville couldn’t make a basket for the first 3 ½ minutes of its home basketball opener against Tri-County on Friday night, but after Kale Lawson hit a 3-pointer to give the Cavaliers their only lead the Hornets hit the gas and didn’t look back.

“All week long I was worried about how we were going to play because I didn’t feel like we practiced very well, but in the back of my mind I kept thinking we need to go against somebody else,” Rossville head coach Cory Dunn said. “We came out a little tight there to start – 3 minutes without scoring. Once we got going, it was ...”

Dunn didn’t finish his sentence, but for the Hornets it was off to the races and on to an 83-34 dismantling of the Cavaliers.

Despite not scoring for nearly half the first quarter, Rossville finished with 25 points by quarter’s end. It started with a jumper by Chase Frey who then converted a steal off the Hornets’ stifling zone press into two more points and the lead.

The points came in bunches after that with Dirk Shaw converting off an offensive rebound and Dawson Jacoby and Jesse Cornell nailing 3s. Many of the points came off turnovers created by the Rossville press, with Frey getting the student body fired up with a dunk on a breakaway to make it 17-5. Jacoby punctuated the scoring onslaught hitting two more 3s to end the quarter for a 25-5 lead.

The defensive intensity continued into the second quarter, with Tri-County’s only score coming on a Hunter Musser 3-pointer with 1:12 left before halftime. The Hornets’ student section seemed to enjoy two blocks on back-to-back possessions by Kirby Meeks almost as much as Frey’s dunk or one to follow in the second half.

“We’re constantly focusing on effort and toughness,” Dunn said. “If we keep playing like that and playing together, it will be pretty fun.”

Shaw hit a circus shot on a layup with 2 seconds to play, giving Rossville a 47-8 lead at the break. The Cavaliers only offensive surge came at the start and end of the third quarter, as Hunter Musser hit two unanswered 3s to start the quarter to make it 47-14.

“We talked about that at halftime,” Dunn said. “Forget about the scoreboard, make sure we’re still doing things the right way. Obviously, we took the full-court press off early, but we still wanted to play good defense in the half-court. I felt like for the most part we did.”

By the third quarter’s end, the Hornets had pushed the lead to 64-23 with Tri-County lessening the damage by scoring the last four points including a traditional 3-point play by Luke Lehe. The fourth quarter started with layups by Meeks, Shaw and Frey on another dunk, with the last coming off an outlet pass from Reid Douglas (who assisted on two of the plays).

The Hornets emptied the bench with 4 minutes to play.

“I didn’t realize these guys had as many points as they did,” Dunn said. “It was pretty balanced. I told them to keep sharing the ball. We play with that kind of effort and share the ball, we’ll be pretty tough.”

Frey led the Hornets in scoring with 20, with Dirk Shaw (15), Damon Shaw (14), Meeks (12) and Jacoby (11) also in double figures. Cornell added seven and Kaleb Del Real two, with Douglas and Griffin Williams finishing off the scoring with one each. Overall, Rossville shot 32 of 55 from the field (just over 58 percent).

Dirk Shaw led the team with nine rebounds and five assists, with Frey and Cornell adding five boards each and Douglas and Damon Shaw four apiece. Meeks registered four blocks, leading the Hornets with five steals as well (the team had 17).

The scary part is that Rossville wasn’t at full strength for the game, as senior point guard Bryce Oliver sat out nursing an injury.

“He tweaked a hamstring at last Saturday’s practice over Thanksgiving break and it just hasn’t progressed very well this week,” Dunn said. “He’s kind of borderline being ready to play so we really hope to have him back next week, obviously.”

The win moved the Hornets to 1-1 on the season and may help sooth a 63-61 opening season loss at Harrison, which ended on a tip-in that a photo showed clearly came after the buzzer. Rossville had a Saturday game at North White before hosting Frontier next Friday at 7:30 p.m.

CAVALIERS 34, HORNETS 83

Tri County 5 3 15 11 — 34

Rossville 25 22 17 19 — 83

Tri County

Totals – 11 7-10 34.

Rossville

Frey 9 2-2 20, Dirk Shaw 6 3-4 15, Damon Shaw 6 0-2 14, Meeks 5 2-4 12, Jacoby 3 2-2 11, Cornell 2 2-2 7, Del Real 1 0-0 2, Douglas 0 1-2 1, Williams 0 1-2 1, Jayden Brown 0 0-0 0. Totals – 32 13-20 83.

3-point goals – Tri-County (5), Rossville (Jacoby 3, Damon Shaw 2, Cornell 1). Total fouls – Tri-County 17, Rossville 15.