MULVANE —The Mulvane boys basketball team seemed listless for the first 25 minutes Tuesday night.
Then senior point guard Nolan Smith was intentionally fouled by Rose Hill's Austin Shaffer, whose bump in mid-air sent Smith head-first into a concrete wall with 7:07 left in the game.
It ratcheted up the intensity of the rivalry game, but it was incomparable to the lift the Wildcats received when Smith returned to the game 32 seconds later with a fresh purple bruise on his forehead.
That was enough to invigorate Mulvane, which erased a five-point deficit and claimed a 50-43 victory over Rose Hill.
"To see him want to play that bad, that just made us want to keep going for him," Mulvane senior Zach Haynes said. "We wanted to win this one for him."
Mulvane didn't take its first lead until the final three minutes. Smith dribbled around the perimeter and handed off to Ty Redington, who drained a three-pointer for a 42-41 lead.
Rose Hill lost its top threat on the next possession, when 6-foot-4 senior Kyle Anderson was called for charging for his fifth foul. Anderson fouled out with 15 points and 14 rebounds.
"That was the turning point in the game, I thought," Rose Hill coach Rocky Stone said. "He was a presence inside. They hadn't been able to stop him effectively to that point."
Rose Hill briefly reclaimed the lead, but a Redington jumper gave Mulvane a 44-43 lead with 1:28 left. The Rockets would miss all four shots after that, but still had a chance when Mulvane missed a free throw with a two-point lead. Rose Hill had the position for the rebound, but Mulvane's Haynes (5-foot-10) came down with it.
It exemplified the rebounding battle, which the much-taller Rockets lost 40-36.
"I set my mind to it," said Haynes, who had 10 rebounds. "I knew if the ball came off, I had to grab it. I just knew I was going to grab it."
Mulvane outscored Rose Hill 19-5 in the final quarter. Redington finished with 16 points, while Luke Willson added 14 for Rose Hill.
"That gave them so much energy and heart," said Mulvane coach Don Shirley , who was Stone's assistant for 10 years. "I was really pleased with how they stayed focused after that. They were really motivated from that point on."
But it was Smith's return to the game that was the difference-maker. He led all scorers with 18 points.
"I just kind of saw the wall and closed my eyes," he said of the fall. "I was just hoping it didn't hurt that bad.
"But it was never a question that I was coming back in."
Rose Hill (1-3) 14 14 10 5— 43 Mulvane (4-1) 12 12 7 19— 50
ROSE HILL: Slade 0, Sutton 8, Willson 14, Shaffer 2, Anderson 15, Forsberg 2, Waddell 2, Clark 0, Nickel 0. Totals 16 (4) 7-13 43.
MULVANE: Smith 18, Evans 3, Redington 16, Haynes 7, Duncan 4, Dempsey 2, Williams 0, Doramus 0, Kilby 0. Totals 14 (6) 16-25 50.