FLUSH — Although the Rock Creek boys’ basketball team made a late surge in the fourth quarter, the damage done by Silver Lake in the third quarter was too much for the Mustangs to overcome in a 49-40 loss at home.
While Rock Creek (15-4, 6-3 Mid-East League) took the lead going into halftime by four points, the Eagles were lights-out following the break.
Silver Lake (12-6, 8-1) out-scored the Mustangs 18-2 in the third period, and got out of the gate quick with four 3-pointers in the quarter’s first 4 minutes. Three of those were by sophomore Trenton Smith, who along with teammate Devin Perry, scored 13 points apiece.
Rock Creek was led by 6-foot-5 junior Jacob Miller and senior Aaron Kuecker. Both topped out at seven points.
“They made plays in the second half, and we didn’t,” Mustangs coach Jim Johnston said. “They hit treys (early in the second half) and they went from down two or three to up six and we never recovered from that.
“We were all out of sorts coming out of halftime and didn’t regain our focus until the fourth quarter. When you leave them wide open, good players hit 3s. That third quarter killed us.”
After the Mustangs opened the second half with a 3-pointer attempt that didn’t find pay-dirt, the Eagles answered with a trey of their own by Smith from the right wing corner to tighten the game at 25-24, with Rock Creek ahead.
After the Mustangs failed to convert at the free throw line, Smith again took a gamble at the 3-ball — this time from the opposite corner — and again he converted to give Silver Lake the lead.
While Kuecker tied the game at 27-all with a inside bucket, Smith — from the same spot as before — hit another 3-pointer. After a defensive stand from the Eagles on the next play, Silver Lake drained another trey, this time from junior Evan Burdiek.
Another defensive stop and a 2-for-2 trip at the charity stripe by the Eagles’ Dylan Holthaus added to the 12-point swing and Rock Creek took a timeout after another Mustangs turnover.
Following the pause, Perry drove in the paint for a score and foul he didn’t convert.
After another Rock Creek possession that failed to see any points, Smith very nearly completed his fourth 3-pointer of the quarter, but the basket spat it back out.
Seconds later, Burdiek sank a jumper from the free throw line and what once was a four-point lead for the Mustangs at the start of the quarter ended up being a 12-point deficit at the end of it.
Rock Creek played better in the final quarter and out-scored Silver Lake 13-10 in the period.
The Mustangs narrowed the gap to just a five-point game with 1:39 left after big shots from Miller and Kuecker — including a 3-pointer from senior Logan Miner and tough inside basket from junior Shane Adams.
But key turnovers by Rock Creek in the closing minute, plus sure free throw shooting by the Eagles kept the game out of reach.
“In the fourth quarter, that group came in and gave us some great possessions at great times,” Johnston said. “We hit a couple shots, but we have get a since of urgency and not wait till the last 3 minutes of the game.
“We came out flat (in the third quarter) and we gave up buckets. We had our heads down instead of fighting back there for a little bit and it hurts.”
Johnston said the Eagles excelled at mistake-free basketball down the stretch.
“They are used to those close games and tight competition,” he said. “Those kids do a good job of not beating themselves.”
Silver Lake 49,
Rock Creek 40
Silver Lake 11 10 18 10 — 49
Rock Creek 11 14 2 13 — 40
SILVER LAKE (49) — Smith 13, Perry 13, Holthaus 8, Pfannenstiel 5, Warren 5, Burdiek 5.
ROCK CREEK (40) — Miller 7, Kuecker 7, Schneider 6, Adams 6, Miner 5, Dobbins 3, Johnston 3, Schmitz 2, Parker 1.
3-pointers — Silver Lake, 4 (Smith 3, Burdiek). Rock Creek, 1 (Johnston).