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Rockets late rally falls short

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The Person High School boys’ basketball team closed Friday’s game against undefeated Eastern Alamance with a flurry of steals, layups and threes.

Unfortunately for the home-standing Rockets, the hill was just a little too steep to climb as Eastern improved to 9-0 with a 70-64 win in Roxboro.

The Eagles led by double-digits for most of the game before Person’s frenetic final push turned what was a 17-point lead to a six-point winning margin. The Rockets ended the game on a 12-1 run in the final 1:24.

“I liked our kids effort,” Person coach Charles Dacus said. “We competed right up until the end, obviously. We just had too many costly turnovers, 18, and expect to win a game.”

Eastern took control of the game early, leading by as many as nine in the opening quarter after feeding 6-5, 240-pound center Na’Zee Baltimore. The Eagles’ big man was a force, especially early on, finishing with 18 points, 12 coming in the first half, including several nice moves in the post. He took advantage of a Rocket frontline that couldn’t match his size.

“(Baltimore) was a problem,” Dacus said. “Everytime, it looked like we’d have him under control, he would wind up doing something because he was just so big. Someone with that kind of size is going to bother us. He’s got really good footwork and good balance for a guy his size. He’s got great hands. I had heard a lot about him. He was as advertised. He’s a double-double guy every game.”

Eastern pushed the lead to 10 a minute into the second quarter and was able to hold a double-digit advantage until Person’s late push.

Dre Newman had his second big offensive game for the Rockets in row, finishing with 23 points, 12 coming in the fourth quarter. Cam Brown returned to the starting lineup and poured in 20.

Malik Williams added 10 points and hit all eight of his free throw attempts.

Devaun Nelson and Jaylen Black finished with four points each and Tae Bailey rounded out the scoring with three.

The Rockets will try to snap their recent three-game slide Tuesday when they travel to Western Alamance. The Warriors are off to a 6-2 start and sit atop the Mid-State with Eastern Alamance at 3-0.

“We’ve got to bring that intensity level we played with, especially in the fourth quarter,” Dacus said. “We’ve got to get started like that at the start of the game. If we can play at that tempo with that pace for 32 minutes, it will help us as a team. We just have to be smarter throughout the game.”

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