by Eric Clutter
Streetsboro -- Daniel Sapp was not able to play in the first meeting this season between his Streetsboro Rockets and Kent Roosevelt.
The 6-foot-5 senior transfer could only watch as his teammates dropped a 68-59 overtime decision to the Rough Riders.
However, in the rematch between the two budding rivals, Sapp was in uniform and proved to be the difference in another close tilt between the two schools.
Sapp scored 12 of his game-high 26 points over the final 4 minutes, 11 seconds, including 10 during a Rockets' 12-0 spurt that propelled the Streetsboro boys basketball team to a 64-60 cross-division Portage Trail Conference victory over the Rough Riders.
"Obviously, Danny is a player, he's big-time, but I thought everybody stepped up," said Streetsboro head coach Nick Marcini.
"It would have been real easy to put it in the tank after that tough loss [an 82-55 setback to Mogadore Feb. 7 on the road].
"But I told the guys before the game, it's a man's game, get off the ground and kick some butt of your own."
Through the first 12 minutes of the second half, Kent had outscored the Rockets 27-15 to erase an eight-point halftime deficit.
And seven unanswered Rough Riders' points, including a Phillip Maggard running 3-point shot from midcourt at the third-quarter buzzer that tied the game, put Kent up 54-50 with 4:34 remaining in the contest.
Sapp, who has averaged a little more than 21 points per game since becoming eligible under the new Ohio High School Athletic Association transfer rule, then made his presence felt.
He finally got his team on the board with a strong drive to the basket and ensuing free throw to complete a three-point play with 4:11 to go.
Then, he grabbed a rebound off Devin Rencher's missed free throw moments later and put it back in to give the Rockets (12-6) the lead for good at 55-54.
Rencher added a bucket to sustain the Streetsboro surge, before Sapp followed two straight Rough Riders' turnovers with a 3 from the left wing that really put the Rockets in command with 2:18 showing.
Sapp then punctuated things with a hoop a minute later to seal the deal.
Phillip Grant's 3 with 47 ticks left got Kent (10-9) back on the board to halt a nearly four-minute scoring drought.
Four turnovers down the stretch hurt the Rough Riders, but head coach Ben Dunlap was very pleased with how his squad responded following a blow-out loss to Stow three nights earlier.
"I told those guys I'm not going to dwell on the four minutes or two possessions or anything like that," the second-year coach said. "Coaching in those games [against Streetsboro], that's fun. Streetsboro is a very talented team."
"Sapp is a heck of a player. He is a tough matchup. We held him to five and then in the second half, he kind of took the game over. That's what good players do.
'But, again, I can't find any fault in our guys. Our guys battled, did everything we asked them to do. Sometimes they make more shots than we do."
Joseph Watts led the Rough Riders with 16 points. Maggard was right behind with 15 and Myles Wright had 11 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots. Grant finished with nine.
"I thought Myles Wright played his best game all year," Dunlap said.
Streetsboro got 10 points from Avery VanReeth and nine apiece from Jerry Judd and Reggie Dublin.
"I thought the young guys came up and hit some shots early," Marcini said.
"And I thought Reggie came up with some big buckets down the stretch. And his defense was outstanding.
"I thought everybody did a great job on the boards. We needed that after [Feb. 6]. It was a great team win. We played well."
Both teams came out in the first eight minutes and established a quick pace.
A 5-0 Rockets' run broke a seven-all deadlock and Streetsboro held a five-point edge for most of the quarter until baskets by Maggard and Wright trimmed the Rough Riders' deficit to a mere point (19-18) at the conclusion of the quarter.
The difference in the opening half turned out to be- an array of Rockets' 3-pointers.
Streetsboro hit a half-dozen in the first 16 minutes -- three in each quarter -- to build its edge to 35-27 at the half, thanks to a late 8-0 burst near the end of the second quarter.
Kent also hit three 3s, including a four-point play from Riley Larkin.
The Rockets also posted a 62-53 win in the junior varsity contest. Dakari Carter led Streetsboro with 18 points.
Both the varsity and JV teams were scheduled to visit Poland Seminary Feb. 11. Results were not available at press time.
Streetsboro is set to host PTC County Division rival James A. Garfield Feb. 14 and Nordonia in its regular-season finale Feb. 18. Both varsity contests are scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.
The Rockets received the sixth seed at the Stow-Munroe Falls Division II sectional-district tournament.
Streetsboro earned a bye in the opening round and is scheduled to play the winner of Tallmadge-Richfield Revere March 1 at 7 p.m.
If Tallmadge, which got the fifth seed, wins, the game is set to take place at Tallmadge High School's James O. Maddox Court.
If Revere wins, the game is scheduled to take place at Streetsboro.
If the Rockets win their two sectional contests, they are set to compete at district play at Stow-Munroe Falls High School's James G. Tyree Gymnasium.
The top four seeds are Cleveland Central Catholic, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Akron Archbishop Hoban and Cleveland John Hay.