Rosewood head coach Daniel Mitchell might not have been completely satisfied Monday evening, but he walked away pleased for two reasons.
One, the Eagles once again showed their mental toughness down the stretch, and two, Rosewood improved its record to 6-1 overall.
Roderick Benjamin led the Eagles in scoring with 22 points in a 59-55 conquest of Lakewood on Monday evening. Otis Coley added 10 points, while Gabe Vernon and Micah Cox both provided seven points.
“I thought we played hard, we made some mistakes, but when the game got tight, we hung in there, and we were able to get some baskets,” Mitchell said. “We knew the importance of this game, and we talked about it being a big game in the locker room, so we knew what was at stake. Especially at home, we knew we had to come out with the win.”
Rosewood led 26-20 at halftime.
However, Lakewood outscored the Eagles 20-14 in the third quarter, and the Leopards tied the game 40-40, but Rosewood responded with a run in the fourth quarter.
Benjamin hit a three-pointer to push Rosewood’s lead back up to five points. The Eagles never lost the lead again, but the Leopards hung around.
“Roderick did a really good job of talking and communicating with the guys, and just being a team leader for us,” Mitchell said.
With just over one minute left in the game, Lakewood cut the lead back down to three points off a free throw Tillyon Williams, but Coley answered by hitting a layup and sinking a free throw with 49.7 seconds left.
Down 58-51, the Leopards’ James Ammons cut the Eagles’ lead down to 58-54, but Rosewood remained composed in the final seconds of the game, and the Eagles held on to get the victory.
“I thought we executed well at the end,” Mitchell said. “It was a physical game, and Lakewood continued to get after it, and they kept battling to give themselves a chance.”
The Eagles entertain Union (3-3) tonight and then travel to Lakewood (5-2) on Friday.