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Rocky in the 4th: Pirates unable to close out

OTTAWA — The Ottawa Pirates did what they set out to do Saturday night against state hoops powerhouse Rock Island (5-1). However, they didn't get the end result that they wanted.

The Pirates clung to a one-point edge late in the fourth quarter before Rock Island junior point guard JaMir Price scored six straight points down the stretch to give the Rocks a five-point cushion and, ultimately, a 50-41 win at Kingman Gym.

"We talked about trying to put ourselves in a position in the fourth quarter to win the game," Pirates coach Mark Cooper said, "and we had the lead in the closing minutes, but a combination of their defense and poor execution offensively led to the outcome that happened."

Down four in the final quarter, Ottawa (2-4) got five points in a row from Noah Gould: a trio of free-throw makes after being fouled on a 3-point attempt and a lob off an inbounds play, the latter giving the Pirates a 39-38 lead with four-and-a-half minutes remaining.

Price (18 points) — who's receiving low-Division I interest, according to Rocks coach Thom Sigel — proceeded to put the next six points up on the scoreboard, which included going 4-for-4 at the charity stripe, to quickly turn Rocky's one-point deficit into a five-point advantage (44-39) with 2:17 left. Shortly thereafter, Ben Ellis tacked on a bucket and knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the deal.

"I love the way our kids responded the last few minutes there," Sigel said. "We executed some things well and kind of gutted one out. We were able to make plays down the stretch, and I'm happy to get out of here with a win."

"That's a good basketball team," Cooper said. "I mean, obviously, whenever you play Rock Island you're going to have to be on the top of your game to give yourselves an opportunity. You know, we had an opportunity late in the fourth quarter to get one tonight, and we have to grow from this, because we've been in this situation several times this season and we haven't been able to close out as many of them (games) as we would have liked (each of the Pirates' defeats have come by single digits)."

The initial 16 minutes of action was essentially a duel between the Tuckers — Rock Island's sweet-shooting 6-4 senior Randy and Ottawa's sophomore sensation Myles — who accounted for half of the teams' scoring output.

Randy Tucker (11 points — all in the first half) swished a trio of 3s to help stake the Rocks to a 15-12 lead after the opening quarter and a seven-point advantage (23-16) midway through the second stanza.

Following a take to basket by Wyatt Hill, Myles Tucker (17 points — 16 in the first half), who drained a 3-pointer right before the first-quarter horn, went on a personal nine-point surge — including a 3 from well beyond the top of the key and a killer crossover that culminated with a floater in the lane — spanning less than a minute and a half to give the Pirates a 27-23 lead. The contest was knotted 27-all at the half.

Sloppiness ensued during the third period, as the teams combined to commit nearly as many turnovers (12) as points scored (15). Ottawa didn't score until the 1:45 mark, but trailed just 35-34 at the conclusion after Hill (10 points) splashed a deep 3-ball from the wing in the waning seconds.

The bottom line was a loss for the Pirates.

"We're not into moral victories," Cooper said. "Tonight wasn't about playing them close and see if we get a win. We're a program built on trying to win basketball games, and we weren't good enough late tonight to get it done — period!"

At Kingman Gym, Ottawa

Rock Island 50, Ottawa 41
ROCK ISLAND (50) — R. Tucker 4 0-0 11, Price 7 4-4 18, J. Tucker 0 1-2 1, Ellis 3 3-4 9, Gustafson 1 0-0 2, Ja. Randle 2 0-0 6, Ju. Randle 0 0-0 0, Voss 0 0-0 0, Allison 1 1-2 3. Totals 18 9-12 50.
OTTAWA (41) — Owens 1 0-0 2, Tucker 6 2-5 17, Hill 4 0-0 10, K. Brent 3 1-2 7, Evola 0 0-0 0, R. Brent 0 0-0 0, Dougherty 0 0-0 0, Carson 0 0-0 0, Gould 1 3-3 5. Totals 15 6-10 41.
Rock Island (5-1) 15 12 8 15 — 50
Ottawa (2-4) 12 15 7 7 — 41
3-point goals — Rock Island 5 (R. Tucker 3, Ja. Randle 2); Ottawa 5 (Tucker 3, Hill 2). Rebounds — Rock Island 32; Ottawa 19. Turnovers — Rock Island 19; Ottawa 16. Total fouls (none fouled out) — Rock Island 14; Ottawa 13.

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