The future of boys’ basketball in Rome and Floyd County looks super bright after two Rome 10U all-star teams met in the District 5 Class A Finals of the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association tournament. After a back and forth battle, the Rome Blue team grabbed the title, topping the Rome White team 39-29 at the Thornton Center on Thursday evening.
Both teams featured stringent defense and opportunistic offense through the game with the Blue team managing to hold one-point lead at the end of the first quarter, 9-8, and again at halftime at 15-14.
Rome Blue came out quick with back-to-back break away baskets from Khaison Beasley and basket plus a free throw make from Bearen Bridges to grab a quick 7-0 lead. Rome White, also known as the Lakers, got three baskets from Julius Raglan in the paint plus another from Tyler Wells. Ethan Hight added a bucket for Rome Blue to give them a 9-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The teams traded buckets and forced multiple turnovers in the second quarter with Rome Blue managing to stay just ahead of the Lakers with a 15-14 lead at halftime.
The Lakers grabbed thier first lead of the contest at the 5:13 mark when Ragland scored a tough bucket in traffic underneath the basket. Although he missed the ensuing free throw, the points put the Lakers ahead 16-15. Moments later, Ragland picked up his fifth foul of the contest, forcing the Lakers to play the remainder of the game without him.
Ragland was one rebound short of a double-double when he exited the game with 10 points, nine rebounds and one blocked shot.
Rome Blue which had reclaimed the lead at 17-16 after a basket from Hight, took advantage over the next five-plus minutes of game time, launching a 15-3 run, featuring baskets from five different players including Hight, Ayden Bendek, Beasley, Mason Lee and Bridges. The onslaught staked the squad to a 32-19 lead early in the fourth quarter.
The Laker’s Mai’Jhor Blair ended the run with a three pointer, cutting the lead to 32-22 with 4:22 left in the game. Kylan Gardener then made a couple of key baskets inside for the Lakers to keep the score close, but Rome Blue countered with big baskets from Bridges, Lee and a three pointer from Beasley to grab the 39-29 win.
Beasley led all scorers with 14 points while also grabbing three rebounds and two steals. Bridges just missed a triple double, recording 10 points, 10 rebounds and nine steals. Lee added six points and five steals. Hight contributed 4 points, six rebounds and four blocks, while Bendek scored five points and grabbed four steals.
Ragland led the Lakers in scoring with his 10 points and was followed by Gardener who netted nine points and 12 rebounds. Tyler Wells scored five points and grabbed three rebounds and three steals, while Blair added five points along with three steals. While they didn’t record any points, Zaiden Winston did grab three rebounds as did Hudson Hoyt. Jersiah Thompson added a steal for the Lakers.
Rome Blue now advances to the State GRPA Class A Basketball Tournament in Warner Robins which starts on Friday, March 4.