Short-handed Rockets get pick-me-up

TOLONO – Zebo Zebe will be a leader in a lot of categories for the Unity basketball team this season.

The 6-foot junior point guard overcame a woeful shooting night (7 of 19) with sound overall play to spearhead a 54-34 win over Moweaqua A&M Friday in the Okaw Valley Conference opener for both teams.

"Some of my shots went in and back out, and I was just off on some of the other ones," Zebe said after finishing with a team-leading 21 points. He also had seven assists, 5 rebounds and one steal despite missing a few minutes in the second half after being hit in the eye by an A&M player's elbow.

"I thought we played real well tonight," Zebe said after the Rockets registered their first win of the season after three losses. "We played good defense. Tim (Collins) really locked down on their point guard (Tobias Bond). We were getting out pretty good in transistion. We have to rely on our guard play and our quickness because we don't have a lot of size. Most of us are 6-foot or under.'

The outcome of the game was never in doubt after Nate Cain hit a three-pointer and Zebe and John Humer added baskets from close range for a 7-2 lead. Central A&M was still within striking distance at 26-18 at halftime before the Rockets went on a 15-3 run for a 41-21 lead going into the final period. Zebe hit a pair of three-pointers and four other Rockets contributed points in the surge.

"We've struggled at times this season," Unity coach Jarrett Brown said of the 0-3 Rocket start. "We'd been trying to do some different things on defense with traps and things like that. We went back to our basic defense and I thought we played well."

Despite a wealth of good guards, the Rockets hope to have another one back in the near future as senior guard Shane Heathcock is recovering from mononucleosis.

"We don't have an exact date when he will be back," Brown said, "but it should be shortly after the first of the year. He has been sorely missed on both ends of the court. (Brother) Heath (Woodcock) also was out for a while. We were shorthanded for a while in practice. We had to slip people around some in games because of sickness or illness.

"I really believe in this team, though. My expectations are high and so are the players. We had our best week of practice this past week. We have the experience. We just have to focus on improving every game."

Humer seconded Zebe in scoring with 11 points while Heath Woodcock's nine points came on 3-of-6 shooting from three-point range. Cain contributed five points and nine rebounds. Bonds led the Raiders with 13 points and six rebounds. Neither team lit up the scoreboard. Unity made 20 of 57 shots from the field for 35.1 percent. A&M hit only 11 of 50 for 22 percent.

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