By Sara Welch | Correspondent
The Streetsboro Rockets squeaked out a 53-50 win over the Field Falcons Friday night in a Portage Trail Conference Metro Division matchup, setting themselves up for a championship showdown against Norton next Friday at Norton.
"Since we dropped those two games early on against Coventry back-to-back we knew that three losses in the league wouldn't win a championship and we had to win out," Streetsboro head coach Nick Marcini said. "We've been treating each game since then like a championship game. We put ourselves in position. Now we just have to go out and take it."
Streetsboro took an early lead of 7-0, but Field fought back to within four points before the end of the first quarter.
The Falcons opened the second quarter with a 3-point basket from Zach Church and continued to match all of the Rockets' baskets until the halftime break. Field's defensive stand prevented Streetsboro's offense from getting comfortable enough to gain a substantial lead throughout the course of the game.
"I'm just proud of the kids. I thought they played really hard, and I think we're moving in the right direction," Field head coach Jon Lane said. "It was a team effort on defense, and we really had a lot of guys contribute on the offensive end as well. Nobody is really standing out right now. It was just a good team effort tonight."
Brandon Gency proved to be the Rockets' only kryptonite in the second half.
Gency scored 10 of Streetsboro's 12 points in the third quarter and added another eight points in the fourth quarter. He finished as the high scorer with 26 points and led the Rockets in rebounds with nine.
"Gency got us a few times where we were caught in a bad position on him defensively, but I thought overall for the night we had good position on defense and we were moving our feet well," said Lane. "It's hard to get easy buckets when the defense is moving their feet and keeping their body in front of you and the rim. I thought our guys did a good job of that."
The Falcons trailed 36-32 going into the fourth quarter, but managed to cut the deficit to one point with 38 seconds left in the game. After an empty Streetsboro possession the Falcons had the ball, but Jordan Matusik recovered a loose ball and was fouled, sending him to the charity stripe in the bonus.
Matusik went 2-for-2 from the line, putting the Rockets ahead by three points, and the Falcons were unable to respond in the final 16 seconds of regulation.
"He stepped up and made a couple big ones. We needed him," said Marcini. "The fact that we were in that position is a little discouraging right now, but that's what you need out of your seniors. Jordan's shots weren't falling tonight and Brandon's were, but Jordan came through when we needed him at the end."
Matusik had 13 points and five assists. Paul Jenkins nearly cleared a double-double with 10 points and nine rebounds, matching Gency as the team leader on the boards.
Macklin Coleman lead the Falcons with 12 points and eight rebounds, while Austin Sparks contributed 10 points.