ROSE HILL — It isn't typical for basketball teams to be most effective when scoring few points.
But Circle's ability to win games without much production worried Rose Hill boys coach Rocky Stone.
Stone's Rockets combated that fear by scoring 20 points in the third quarter on the way to a 48-36 win. Rose Hill trailed 18-17 at half but outscored the Thunderbirds by 13 points during the final 16 minutes.
"Circle likes to keep the game in the 30s and 40s," Stone said. "Most teams don't play quite that hard for four quarters defensively, and they play hard."
The first half — particularly the second quarter, which the Thunderbirds won 14-7 — went according to Circle's plan.
The Thunderbirds managed their possessions and forced Rose Hill to shoot from the perimeter. The Rockets obliged to avoid Circle's Jordan Phillips, who disrupted the paint by blocking and altering shots.
Momentum swung in the third quarter when Tyler Shirley led a Rose Hill charge by making three-pointers on consecutive possessions. The second broke a 20-20 tie, and the Rockets led for all but 24 seconds the rest of the way.
"The third quarter is the biggest quarter in the game of basketball, especially when it's close," Shirley said. "The third quarter, you've got to come out and hit shots to keep the momentum up."
Rose Hill broke it open with a 15-5 run in the third and fourth quarters and led by double digits for most of the fourth quarter.
The Rockets never found an answer for Phillips, who led Circle with 11 points and 15 rebounds.
But Phillips' struggles from the free-throw line, where he missed 6 of 7, duplicated those of his teammates; Circle made 10 of 25 from the line, nearly negating a 17-shot advantage there.
"People don't get to guard a free throw," Circle coach Burt Helmer said. "If you can't score on an unguarded shot, that in itself throws things off. We expect to score quite a bit from the line."
Circle hasn't scored more than 51 points this season, and has won three games while scoring 45 or fewer.
The Rockets' seven three-pointers helped them nearly hit the 50-point barrier Stone believed would ensure victory. Rose Hill's defense was just as important, holding Circle to 13 of 34 shooting and 7 of 20 in the second half.
Circle (4-2, 2-1) 4 14 11 7 — 36 Rose Hill (5-2, 2-2) 10 7 20 11 — 48
CIRCLE: Kirkpatrick 2, Shepherd 10, Tunnell 1, Kinder 8, Gardiner 2, Phillips 11, Ronnebaum 2. Totals 13 (0) 10-25 36.
ROSE HILL: Shirley 17, Khalidi 6, Rapp 12, Richards 2, Newton 8, Paddock 1. Totals 19 (7) 2-8 48.