ONEIDA | That Rockwood hung tough was no surprise. No one who has watched a Paul Kamikawa team play was surprised by that.
But that Oneida eventually proved too much for the Tigers to handle was also no surprise.
The Indians kept their unbeaten region season rolling on Saturday night, defending their home floor with a 68-46 win over Kamikawa’s Tigers to advance to the Region 2-A semifinals in Wartburg.
Oneida jumped out to a seven-point lead in the first quarter, then saw Rockwood keep the game close to even through the second and third quarters before finally taking over again in the final period.
Rockwood led by as much as four points in the first quarter, before Oneida closed the period with an impressive run to seize control of the game early.
The Indians got 17 points from freshman Grady Keeton to lead four players in double figures. Mason Keeton scored 16, while Jeric Huling had 14 and Hayden Brawner added 10.
Oneida made 75% of its free throw attempts in the second half, while shooting 52% from the field — including 50% from 3-point range — in the third and fourth quarters.
Rockwood was able to withstand the solid shooting for a while, matching Oneida blow-for-blow in the third quarter. But the Indians, who led by 11 points going into the fourth quarter, completely took over in the final period, leading by as much as 24 points before settling for the 22-point win.
Ty Pryor had 26 points to lead Rockwood.
Oneida had a 25 to 22 advantage on the boards, and forced Rockwood into 19 turnovers while committing only nine of its own.
Zeb Spradlin was the leading rebounder, with eight, while Huling had a team-high five steals and also added six assists. Mason Keeton had eight assists.
The win was Oneida’s 20th of the season.
While Rockwood entered the region tournament as the No. 4 seed, the Tigers had won 15 games before running into trouble in the District 4-A tournament. Rockwood lost back-to-back games, but took both teams to overtime. First, the Tigers lost to Oakdale in double-overtime. Then, they lost to Greenback in the consolation game, leaving them facing the trip to Oneida.
Both Oakdale and Greenback proved their merit on Saturday; both are still playing, including the Cherokees after an upset win at Oliver Springs.
Oneida will next face Coalfield, which pulled off an upset of its own on Saturday. The Yellow Jackets blew past Harriman, the District 4 runner-up, to earn a rematch with Oneida.
The Oneida-Coalfield game will be played Tuesday at Wartburg, with tipoff set for 6pm. The Indians swept the regular season series with the Yellow Jackets, winning by 21 points at home and by 14 points at Coalfield.
ONEIDA (68): Gr. Keeton 17, M. Keeton 16, Huling 14, Brawner 10, Rector 8, Spradlin 2, Limburg 1.
ROCKWOOD (46): Pryor 26, Turner 9, Norton 4, Hannibal 3, Watts 2, Poland 2.