12/21/12 — Rosewood's rally falls short against Cleveland girls

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Rosewood's rally falls short against Cleveland girls

By Rudy Coggins
Published in Sports on December 21, 2012 1:46 PM

PRINCETON -- The rally fell short.

Rosewood shaved Cleveland's double-digit deficit to a single possession in the fourth quarter, but endured a 47-43 loss on opening day of the 2012 Bulldog Christmas Classic contested at Princeton High School.

The Eagles (5-4 overall) face Carolina 1-A Conference foe Spring Creek in the third-place game at 4 p.m. today. The Rams (7-5) meet county rival Princeton in the championship tilt at 7 p.m.

"It was a good game for us, a good test for us this at this point of the season," Rosewood head coach Ryan Wells said.

Wells added that once his team discovered it couldn't get open looks inside against Cleveland's tall front line, outside jumpers became the focal point on offense.

Brittney Preston's 3-pointer gave the Rams their biggest lead, 38-28, with 7:06 remaining in regulation. The Eagles converted five of their next six offensive possessions -- all mid-range shots -- and closed the gap to 40-38.

Alicia Burns collected six of her 13 points during that stretch. Heath capped the run with a short shot off Lexi Mercer's assist.

Cleveland senior Courtney Ireland, who has verbally committed to play volleyball at Belmont Abbey, drained two free throws coming out of a timeout. After Burns hit the back end of a two-shot foul, but Preston and backcourt mate Monique Torres scored consecutive baskets to push the Rams ahead 46-39 around the two-minute mark.

"We played better defense (in the second half), our kids were more intense," said Cleveland head coach Chris Dunehower, who earned career win No. 198. "We mixed a little zone in and I think that kind of threw them off a little bit. We were able to get some key stops at the end.

"I thought our kids battled hard."

Mercer's 3-pointer off Krystal Yelverton's assist pulled Rosewood to within 46-42 with less than a minute remaining. The teams traded turnovers before Jasmine Richardson iced the outcome with a free throw in the final 11 seconds.

Preston and Wall led the Rams' attack with 18 and 11 points, respectively.

Mercer knocked down 18 points, giving her 178 in nine games this season. The freshman grabbed five rebounds, handed out three assists and collected four steals.