ERHS's Joseph Gooden goes for a layup against TV's Jonathan Keppel on Thursday in Elkton. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
ERHS's Chase Comer passes as TA's Angel Bravo defends in the Eagles' win Thursday.
ELKTON – East Rockingham High School’s boys’ basketball team has become a pesky opponent for Turner Ashby.
“We’re 5-6 [overall]. If we could beat East Rock, gosh, we’d be 7-4,” TA coach Chad Seibert said wistfully after his team’s 48-41 loss to the Eagles on Thursday. “…If we could just [beat East Rock]. It kills me. It just kills me.”
Group A ERHS topped the Group AA Knights to secure its first three-game winning streak since the school opened in 2010.
“We feel like we’re the underdogs [against Group AA teams], so we want to try to take advantage of that,” Eagles coach Mark Palmer said. “It’s a good confidence boost.”
The teams have played three times, and with each successive meeting, East Rockingham (6-5) has progressed. When the teams first met Dec. 1, TA won 53-42, handing the Eagles their 12th straight loss to a Group AA school, dating to 2010. Four days later, East Rockingham beat Turner Ashby in a back-and-forth nail-biter, 54-51. On Thursday, the Eagles never trailed.
TA had something to do with that.
The Knights (5-6) missed their first 12 shots as East Rock took a 12-3 first-quarter lead. The Eagles led by as many as 15 points in the fourth quarter, only giving TA a whiff of a chance late with a couple turnovers before a couple defensive stops sealed it.
Seibert got just 21 combined points from his two of his top players — seniors Shane Brown (nine points) and Justin Layman (12). That wasn’t nearly enough for Seibert.
“We have to have 30 [points] between those two,” Seibert said. “However they get it — I don’t care if one of them gets 30 and the other gets zero because they’re being face-guarded, because there’s a lot of that going on.”
He wasn’t particularly pleased with the supporting cast, either.
“[Opponents] are daring other people [besides Brown and Layman] to beat ’em, and they’re not doing it,” Seibert said. “Those other guys are not stepping up to the challenge. There were four or five opportunities early in the game where those other guys caught the ball underneath the hoop and didn’t even consider laying it in. [They were] just, like, looking to get rid of it.”
While TA relies on a couple scorers, the Eagles strive for more balance, and they got it Thursday. Senior Tyler Hensley led his team with 12 points, but the Eagles also got a near double-double from sophomore Logan Lam (10 points, nine rebounds) and eight points from junior Shaquan James.
“I’ve grown up a little bit — matured a little bit,” said Lam, who played on the junior varsity team last season. “The game’s slowed down for me a lot.”