The Rockport-Fulton High School (RFHS) Pirate basketball team played a tight first half against the Zapata Hawks but pulled away in the second half to win 70-51 Monday, Feb. 24 in Alice.

RFHS continues its season with a 28-7 overall record.

With a large lead over Zapata in the fourth quarter, the Pirates celebrated its Bi-District Championship early and subbed in their bench players, its junior varsity, in the final minute of play. The RFHS junior varsity basketball team finished its district season undefeated and first place in District 31-4A. RFHS Head Boys Basketball Coach Damien Bates wanted to put the junior varsity team in to thank them for their hard work all season long.

“They’re our scout team. They work hard for us every day and to be able to get them some points was pretty exciting,” said D. Bates.

While the second half was more of what the Pirates were looking for against Zapata, the first half was tough sledding as RFHS got off to a rocky start.

“We knew they were going to play hard, we knew they were going to run a 2-3 zone and we would have to attack it; we were just hoping that shots were falling,” said D. Bates.

In the first quarter, RFHS got some good looks inside with Kaden Harder and Tyson Cox causing most of the damage. However, RFHS was missing numerous shots and Zapata clawed their way back into the game to end the quarter trailing 10-8 to RFHS.

In the second, Zapata took its first lead of the game in the first minute of the quarter on an open three-ball from the corner making it 11-10. RFHS continued to struggle offensively while Zapata fought to stay ahead.

It wasn’t until with three minutes remaining, RFHS regained its lead again after Konnor McMahon and Josh Lee hit one three-point field goal (FG) each to take a 23-17 lead. However, with RFHS still struggling to make shots in order to pull away, Zapata hung around and trailed RFHS by three going into the half 27-24.

“We came out a little sluggish in the first half and I thought that might happen with so many new faces in the playoffs,” said D. Bates.

In the third, RFHS began to find its groove and played well enough to create a big lead versus Zapata. The combination of Cox and Harder inside was working well against Zapata’s interior defense as they both combined for 12 points in the quarter alone. McMahon provided the threat of drawing Zapata’s defense outside by hitting two 3-point FG’s. Trailing by more than 10 points, Zapata fought back and closed out the quarter by hitting a couple more shots to stay within 10, 47-38.

In the fourth, RFHS finally began to pull away from Zapata after shots made by Cox and Ty Klender helped build on its nine-point lead. Zapata also began to struggle offensively as RFHS came away with more defensive stops on blocks and steals.

With just under four minutes remaining, Chance Bates hit the proverbial dagger from behind the three-point line to put RFHS ahead 59-43. RFHS steadily built on its lead from then until the end of the game, winning 70-51.

“We were able to pick it up in the third quarter and able to extend it on out and do what we needed to,” said D. Bates. “But you know we got the win, we’re going to the next round and we got to enjoy this.”

Cox led RFHS in scoring with 21 points.

McMahon followed with 18 points and Harder scored 15 points.

RFHS played its area round game against La Vernia Friday, Feb. 28 at Yoakum.

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