ROSE HILL — Rose Hill boys coach Rocky Stone is not one for cliches. Rather, his comments during interviews are measured and thoughtful.
Tuesday night, though, Stone admitted to being trite as he repeatedly said how proud he was of his players in their 59-39 victory over visiting Andale.
"I was proud of all of them," said Stone, whose team is 7-2 after opening 0-2. "They played intense defense, and you've got to play that way against (Andale). I'm proud of those kids. I couldn't be more proud. I know that's trite, but it's true."
The pride was deserved as Rose Hill recovered from a 17-11 first-quarter deficit to outscore Andale 48-22 over the next three periods.
Four Rose Hill players scored nine or more points — Tyler Shirley (21), Chris Paddock (13), Sam Newton (11) and Dillion Rapp (9) —and the Rockets outrebounded Andale 41-29, including 18-6 on the offensive boards.
The Rockets also forced 20 turnovers. Shirley had a game-high seven steals and a blocked shot, while Rapp and Ramsey Khalidi each had three steals.
The Rockets took control in the third quarter. Rose Hill lost its one-point halftime lead when Andale's Dylan Hawkins opened the third period with a putback.
But Stone had made an adjustment at halftime. Instead of playing a three-quarter court pressure defense, Rose Hill came out in a full-court press.
The Rockets forced nine third-quarter turnovers.
"We got a lot of steals, and to my surprise (Andale) did not handle the pressure like we thought they would," Stone said."... The press was the key. We had a lot of kids chip in. We had kids off the bench, a sophomore (Caleb Braddy) and a junior (Kyle Pritchard) who played great defense, and that helped immensely. When you play defense like that, you have to have rested kids, and we had that."
Rose Hill's press worked well because the Rockets have so many players who were able to burst into the passing lanes, tipping passes away from Andale.
"We all have quick hands, and we use that," Shirley said. "We were trying to be really active (on defense).... We just have to fly around, and I think we did that pretty well tonight."
Andale coach Jeff Buchanan was surprised at how his team faltered under Rose Hill's press.
"It's unusual; we haven't had much problem with a press," said Buchanan, whose top player, Scott Hermreck, suffered an ankle injury on Friday. "But credit to them, they did a good job. Without Scott, we got a little fatigued. It kind of took their mindset and maybe it was stretched farther than they were ready for."
Andale had started hot offensively, hitting 5 of 8 field goals in the first quarter, including 4 of 4 from three. Cole Meierhoff came off the bench and hit three threes in the first quarter. He finished with a team-high 12 points.
But over the next three quarters, Andale was 9 of 32 (28 percent) from the floor.
"Those are two of the most opposite halves I've ever seen us have," Buchanan said. "Not only did our shots not go in, but their mentality changed, their effort changed, the game plan wasn't going. I don't know what happened at halftime, but it's affected us in a couple games this year."
Andale (3-2, 4-3) 17 4 7 11—39 Rose Hill (5-0, 7-2) 11 11 18 19—59
ANDALE: Schiff 5, Rock 3, Hawkins 6, Meyer 1, Meierhoff 12, Bogner 6, O'Hair 6. Totals 14 (5) 6-11 39.
ROSE HILL: Shirley 21, Newton 11, Paddock 13, Rapp 9, Khalidi 3, Braddy 2. Totals 26 (1) 6-14 59.