OCALA — Rutherford was short-handed against a much-taller opponent and fell 63-59 on Wednesday to Deerfield Beach in the opening round of the 16-school Kingdom of the Sun boys high school basketball tournament being played on Ocala Vanguard.
Rutherford, 11-2, dropped into the losers’ bracket where it will play Miami Senior today at 8:30 a.m. CST. (The game will be broadcast live at www.theprepzone.com.) Deerfield Beach, 17-1 and ranked No. 4 in Class 8A, advanced to meet Boone at 3 p.m.
“We just don’t see that kind of size around our area,” Rams coach Rhondie Ross said of the Bucks, who boast three players in the 6-foot-6 to 6-9 range. “I was proud of the way the guys competed. We only dressed nine guys. We were without two of our top eight.”
Ross said that veteran point guard Kiki Williamson did not play for the Rams, but would return in today’s game. Veteran forward Alex Banks did not make the trip due to illness.
Despite their absence, Rutherford trailed 33-32 at halftime and after Deerfield Beach scored the first seven points of the third quarter was within three in the final minutes.
Khaliel Spearman led the Rams with 21 points and Keith Arts had 11. For the Bucks, senior Marcus Owens, who has signed with Lamar University, had seven 3-pointers and 25 points total and Terence Johnson, who has signed with South Alabama, had 19.
“We had opportunities to beat these kids, but we shot poorly from the free-throw line and we had a few who hadn’t been in these type situations before,” Ross said.
“We got a great lift off the bench from Tyrus James. “He only had five points, but he did a lot of other things for us. He was contributing, do all of the intangibles.”
Today’s opponent Miami Senior was 26-5 last season and returns 6-9 senior Wadley Mompremier, who has signed with Ohio University and is averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds per game.