TOWANDA — Whitney Bates scored 13 of her 16 points in the second half, helping visiting Rose Hill beat Circle 58-55 on Friday night.
"For her to step up and score, get assists and take care of the ball as well as she does, I'm happy for her," Rose Hill coach Jenny Page said.
Bates took control in the second half. Her three-pointer from the left side gave Rose Hill a 42-40 lead that it would not relinquish.
Afterward, Bates downplayed her performance.
"We really had to get back in the game, but defense is really what helped us most, though," Bates said. "We knew if we pressured them, they wouldn't be able to score and that would get us more opportunities."
Bates, a senior, said the dwindling number of games added urgency to her efforts.
"The most important thing is to finish hard, as a senior, every game could be your last one."
When Bailey Burnett grabbed a key rebound and put it back in as the third quarter ended, the Rockets led 44-40, and Circle was unable to make a final stand.
The Rockets' victory avenged a 44-43 loss to Circle at Rose Hill on Jan. 5, and broke a tie atop the AV-CTL Division IV standings, giving the Rockets a one-game lead with two games remaining in the regular season. Circle is the fifth-ranked team in Class 4A.
Page said it was good to get revenge.
"I don't think we felt like we played our best the last time we played them," Page said. "They're a tough team, and I felt like if we came in here and played like we're capable of, we'd make it a game — and we did."
Kelsey Webber, who finished with a team-high 20 points, scored 11 first-half points, helping the Rockets (11-6, 7-1) cut Circle's lead to 30-26 at halftime.
After halftime, however, Bates took control.
Kyrstie Ehm did her best to keep the Thunderbirds (15-3, 6-2) in the game, scoring eight of her game-high 23 points in the final period. But Circle could never get over the hump and hurt itself with sloppy ballhandling at crucial times.
Circle's problems got worse when point guard Charity Hon was called for her fifth foul with 5:04 to play.
"That hurt," Circle coach Brian Henry said. "She's our point guard, so that definitely hurt us. But I'm proud of the girls who stepped up and helped fill her role.
"They got to the basket way too many times uncontested. We had to do a better job of help-side defense and rotation to stop that."
The Thunderbirds tried to cut into the Rose Hill lead, but could only get within one point in the fourth quarter. That's when another Rockets senior, center Randi Lucas, hit two short bank shots in the final 1:26, blunting Circle comeback attempts both times.
Rose Hill13 13 18 14 — 58 Circle19 11 11 14 — 55
ROSE HILL: Webber 20, Bates 16, Lucas 10, Burnett 5, Justice 7. Totals 21 (2) 14-23 58.
CIRCLE: Hon 6, Flaming 9, Ehm 23, Burden 10, Richard 3, Couey 2, Barrett 2. Totals 20 (1) 14-18 55.