By Frank Aceto | RECORD PUBLISHING CO.
At times, the Rockets look liked world-beaters.
Other times, not so much.
Unfortunately, the latter proved to be true Friday night, according to Streetsboro head coach Nick Marcini.
The Rockets fell to 3-2 on the season and 2-2 in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division after falling to Coventry 68-59 in Akron.
With the win, the Comets improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the division.
Streetsboro trailed by as many 19 (57-38) early in the fourth quarter, then saw its hopes of a comeback increase rather rapidly as Coventry kept missing foul shots down the stretch.
In the end, the Comets made enough plays to prevail.
"I think we have the talent to compete with anyone," Marcini said. "I just don't know how much they want to win. That's something we're going to have to figure out."
Coventry, on the other hand, may be one of the biggest surprises in the Metro Division thus far.
Playing a helter-skelter, fast-paced offense with lots of gambling on defense, the Comets gave the Rockets' fits throughout the evening.
If Streetsboro got close, Coventry simply turned it up a notch and took control.
The Comets went on a 9-1 run that started late in the first quarter to take a 22-14 lead.
The Rockets, who were playing from behind for most of the game, opened the third quarter with a 9-2 spurt to cut their deficit to four (37-33).
And then, just like that, the Comets answered with a 9-0 run.
"We didn't play well and Coventry played really well," Marcini said. "They are one of the most-improved teams in the league."
The Comets kept their feet on the accelerator, thanks to a variety of weapons.
Despite dressing nine players, Coventry had seven players score at least six points. John Morrison led the way with 15 points and George Jacobs added 13 points. Also scoring in double figures was Jesse Oravecz, who contributed 12 points.
Nevertheless, Streetsboro refused to go gently into the night. Jordan Matusik and Brandon Gency wouldn't allow it.
The duo scored 21 of the Rockets' 24 points in the final eight minutes. Because of those efforts, the Comets' lead was just eight (64-56) with a little more than a minute left.
And Coventry proved to be an unexpected source of hope for Streetsboro. The Comets made just 5-of-10 free throws in the final minute.
Nevertheless, the Rockets didn't capitalize in the critical moments.
"Streetsboro is a good team," Comets head coach Lynn Wess said. "They were just coming off a tough loss to Kent (Roosevelt). It was a big win for our program."
Matusik knocked down five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 19 points despite not starting.
"Jordan suffered a concussion against Kent in the second quarter," Marcini said. "We weren't even sure if he was going to play."
Gency did most of his damage after halftime and finished with 17 points. Coventry, which proved to be a bit faster to loose balls on a number of occasions, outrebounded the Rockets 30-28.
"The good thing was we didn't quit," Marcini said. "But we're not going to beat anybody if we don't work hard."