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By Sara Welch | Correspondent
The Streetsboro Rockets captured a 62-48 victory after showcasing their dominance in a fourth-quarter showdown against the Garfield G-Men in a Portage Trail Conference cross-division matchup Friday night at James A. Garfield High School.
The G-Men faced a 12-point deficit at halftime. However, after rallying in the third quarter and outscoring the Rockets 21-10, they managed to cut Streetsboro's lead to a single point going into the final quarter, trailing just 40-39.
"They made some big adjustments at halftime. They came out with more intensity and killed us on the boards," Streetsboro head coach Nick Marcini said. "They outworked us for pretty much the entire second half. Fortunately for us, we were able to hit some big shots down the stretch."
The Rockets found their comfort zone behind the 3-point line in the fourth quarter and propelled themselves to a comfortable advantage over the G-Men. Brandon Gency hit the first of many fourth-quarter 3-pointers, pushing Streetsboro's lead to 43-39. Jordan Matusik then knocked down a 3 of his own on consecutive possessions, gaining a nine-point lead for the Rockets and the momentum of the game.
Matusik finished with a total of four 3-pointers and was the high scorer for the Rockets with 20 points.
"There was a long while where it seemed like we didn't score a basket and I don't know how long it was, but when he hit those (3-pointers) that was pretty much the dagger," Marcini said of Matusik's clutch treys. "Devin Rencher sealed the deal at the free-throw line right at the end. Our guys stepped up and we made shots when we needed to."
As a result of a G-Men technical foul, Rencher went 2-of-2 from the charity stripe. Gency followed up with a perfect performance of his own by making both of his foul shots as well, pushing Streetsboro to the 62-49 final.
Gency and Rencher both racked up 14 points through the course of the game.
"They did a tremendous job closing the game," Garfield coach Andrew Olesky said. "They have some tremendous shooters. I've always said that good shooting covers up a lot of mistakes. I'm not saying they made a lot of mistakes, but Streetsboro's going to be tough to beat when they shoot like that."
Although the G-Men were unable to contain the Rockets' clutch fourth-quarter offense, their performance in the third quarter and their defensive ability to hold the explosive Streetsboro shooters to only 10 points shows promise for the remainder of the season.
"We're optimistic going into the season because the kids are positive, they want to win and they don't care who gets the credit. They have a strong commitment to the defensive end," Olesky said. "These kids have a great attitude, they're very resilient and they're never going to quit. They're always going to play hard. We are very positive moving forward."
Anthony Workman was the high scorer of the game, totaling 23 points for the G-Men and pulling down seven rebounds.