National Boys Win SIAA State Title

February 26, 2024

The Rock National Boys team is the SIAA State Champion for the 5th time in school history after a 58-47 win in the state title game over DME Academy on Saturday evening.

The Lions were led by a breakout performance by 2025 wing Austin Leslie, as he made 5 of 6 3-point field goals and totaled 17 points off the bench for The Rock.

A Hard-Fought Battle

DME Academy started the title game on an 8-0 run before the Lions responded and took a 19-14 lead into the second quarter behind 3 made 3’s by Leslie and 2 made 3’s by senior forward RJ Jones.

The second quarter saw the Lions struggle to score as they were held scoreless for over 5 minutes of gameplay.

DME seized the opportunity and had an 8-point lead at halftime, 31-23 as the Lions only scored 4 total points in the 2nd quarter due to poor shooting.

The Lions were down 13 points (36-23) early in the 3rd quarter before Austin Leslie made a pull-up jumper off the left elbow.

Two possessions later, junior wing Clarence Massamba hit a 3 from the wing to cut the lead to 36-28. The Rock was intent on chipping away at the DME lead and going on a run of their own to take control of the game.

Kalvin Vengeto helped with those efforts, making 3 free throws to cut into the lead further, down to a 36-30 advantage for DME. A few possessions later, Massamba hit another big 3-pointer to cut the lead to just 3 for DME.

DME junior guard Savo Drezgic scored 5 straight points to give his team a 41-33 lead. After 3 more free throws by DME, the Lions found themselves down 11 points, 44-33.

A Game of Runs

Sophomore wing Joseph Hartman drove to the middle and earned a tough and-1 at the rim. Hartman sunk his free throw to get the Lions to 44-36 entering the 4th quarter.

Then, something amazing and remarkable happened: the Lions started the 4th quarter on an 18-0 run over the first 8:09.

Big drives from junior point guard Evan Sterck — who finished with 12 points, 8 assists, and only 2 turnovers — helped to lead the charge in the 4th quarter. Sterck’s efforts helped The Rock overcome what was once a daunting 13-point deficit.

Austin Leslie, SIAA Finals MVP

Finals MVP Austin Leslie came up big once again banging down 2 big 3-pointers, the first with 2:52 remaining to put the Lions up 48-44.

Sterck added a pull-up 3 the next possession with 2:08 to increase the lead to 7. And then, with 1:00 left on the clock, Leslie hit the dagger 3 to put the Lions up 10.

DME would finally score the next possession on an And-1 finish, but the damage was done.

Jones slammed home a transition dunk, another couple of free throws, and the game was sealed.

The Rock held DME scoreless from the 41.7 mark in the 3rd quarter until the 52.0 mark in the 4th quarter – nearly 9 minutes with out a point!

Playing With G.R.I.T.

The Rock National Boys team entered the SIAA State Tournament as the number one seed after going 10-0 during the SIAA regular season. The undefeated SIAA regular and post season is the first in SIAA history.

Head Coach Justin Harden“I am so incredibly proud of this team,” said Coach Justin Harden. “Resilience is one of our GRIT words, and we showed it tonight. We also showed a lot of growth, integrity and tenacity along the way too.”

“I have never been a part of such an amazing in-game run as what we just witnessed,’ added Harden.

“To hold a team scoreless over that period of time is unthinkable against any opponent. But to do it in the highest of pressure situations against a team with as much talent and D1 players as they have is truly remarkable.

“I could not be more proud of these players and my staff for what they were able to do. It was literally history in the making!”

Making History

The Rock finishes the season 25-8.

After being 10-7 on the season after losing 4 out of 5 after Christmas, the Lions turned their season around, making TRS and SIAA history in the process.

The Rock School


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