The Craig County boys were scheduled to host Bath County Tuesday night with a spot in the Region 1C tournament on the line.
Craig and Bath tied for fourth place in the Pioneer District regular season. Craig held the tie-breaker, so the Rockets got to host the “four-five” game this week. It was originally scheduled for Monday but moved back to Tuesday due to school being closed at Bath County because of bad weather.
The top four teams in the Pioneer are included in the Region 1C tournament, along with the top four in the Mountain Empire, so Tuesday’s game was also for a spot in the regional.
Craig finished 4-8 in the district after splitting their last two games last week. They played at Covington on February 6 and dropped an 86-45 decision to a stout Cougar team. Covington jumped out to a 15 point lead in the first quarter and the Rockets never recovered.
Matthew Lucas led the Craig scoring with 21 points while Zach Peters had 10 and Drew Duncan chipped in with seven. Covington made 10 three pointers in the game and then beat undefeated Narrows the next evening.
The Rockets wrapped up the regular season with a 55-54 win at Highland County last Wednesday. That enabled Craig to tie for fourth and get the home game to open the Pioneer tournament this week.
“This ended up being one of the biggest games of the season for us,” said coach Ryan Frazier. “It was the last regular season game of the year, and if we won we would end up in a tie for fourth place. If we were to lose we would be sixth, so the chance to host a first round district tournament game was on the line.”
The game was tight throughout with Craig leading by two points at the half. The Rockets were ahead by five with a couple minutes left in the game and used the clock well, working the ball around to kill time as the Rams were trying to foul. However, Craig missed four free throws down the stretch while Highland scored a couple buckets and ended up with the ball with just a few seconds left on the clock. The Rams missed two put backs around the basket at the buzzer to give Craig the one point win, 55-54.
“I was really proud of our effort and determination,” said Frazier. “We didn’t get many calls and it was parents’ night as well, but we didn’t let that stop us and fought hard to get the win. This was a big team win.”
Peters scored 18 points and had eight assists on the night. Lucas added 21 points and Hayden Reynolds scored eight.