Just don’t tell that to the Rockmart Middle School basketball teams.
With school out all last week due to the winter storm that halted normal activities in North Georgia, both RMS teams shook off the rust by hosting the undefeated teams from Model Middle School on Saturday morning.
And while Rockmart went 0-2 on the day, the final scores showed that both the girls and boys teams are stepping up their game.
The Lady Jackets, who have won just three games this season, provided a jolt to their confidence by keeping Model on its toes in a 33-29 loss while Rockmart’s boys held on until the final quarter to fall 54-50.
“We just got tired,” RMS boys coach Tim Puckett said. “We got the wind knocked out of us after five days of no practice but the boys played hard.”
The Jackets (6-3) had lost to the Blue Devils 43-41 earlier in the season on the road and were looking forward handing Model its first loss of the season.
But some untimely mistakes in the final four minutes of the game allowed the visitors to go on a 12-2 run that put them in the lead at the end.
“The thing is Model is that best team in the league and for us to play competitively with them twice this season is good,” Puckett said. “But one thing we’ve got to do is get back in shape.”
A highlight for the Jackets was their outside game as Drake Benefield, Seth Little and Jaylin Smith combined for nine 3-pointers.
Little paced Rockmart with 13 points while Benefield had 12 and Smith had 10.
“You look at the stats and we got outplayed at the post,” Puckett said. “Our perimeter players did great but that’s something we’re going to have to work on.”
Up 9-7 after the first period, the Jackets were shutout during a 9-0 Model run in the second that gave the Blue Devils a two-point advantage until Rockmart posted an 11-5 run in the final 2:40 of the half and went up 25-21 at the break.
RMS outscored Model 18-15 in the third period to hold a seven-point lead but was held scoreless in the final 2:41 of the game as foul trouble reared its head and Model meticulously went ahead.
“It was an aggressive game but that can go either way for each team,” Puckett said. “When it comes to that point where you’ve got to box out and keep yourself out of foul trouble it can get to your kids’ heads and can be a mental block.”
Rockmart Middle’s girls, who have struggled in the past, opened the game with a swell of defense and held Model to just one field goal in the first period to earn a 10-3 lead.
Model retaliated with an 11-2 run to end the first half and take the 18-16 lead with 10 seconds to go.
But the Lady Jackets pulled together and, with Darby Maulding picking up her game from the post, ended the third quarter with a 7-0 run that put them up 23-22 heading into the fourth.
But Model wouldn’t go away and went 9-of-11 at the line in the final six minutes while RMS never got a shot to go to the line and fell behind.
“They just played hard,” RMS girls coach Brooke Worley said. “We’ve changed a couple of plays but it’s the fact that we’ve been working together now as a team that has made a difference.”
Maulding led Rockmart with 13 points while the rest of the points were spread out among six other players.
“We worked the ball better down low than we have been and we started moving our feet better and finding open spots,” Worley said.
“There is still stuff that we need to work on but they’ve improved a lot and we had a lot of girls come off the bench and step up so that was good to see.”
Rockmart will host Cedartown Middle School’s teams this Saturday at 10 a.m.