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Democrat and Chronicle

High school boys basketball

By James Johnson
Staff writer

(February 12, 2004) — HENRIETTA — Never mind the “00” that Brian Cooper wears on his Rush-Henrietta basketball jersey.

The sixth man for the Royal Comets was no zero when his team needed him Wednesday against rival Fairport.

Cooper chipped in 11 points for an offense that needed it and hustled to help the Royal Comets run off to a 59-50 win at Rush-Henrietta.

The Royal Comets were a team that couldn’t shoot straight for the first two quarters of the key Monroe County Division I game. Cooper, however, helped Rush-Henrietta (11-0, 15-0) catch fire when it moved to within striking distance of Fairport (9-2, 13-3).

“Coach (Chris Reed) really gave us a pep talk at halftime,” said Cooper, a 6-2 senior who finished with 11 points. “We needed better energy.”

Fairport led 39-37 when Cooper came up with a steal that led to a three-point play for teammate Calvin Betts and the start of a 16-2 run that Rush-Henrietta completed midway through the fourth quarter.

Cooper also made a jump shot from the free throw line and a layup that pushed Rush-Henrietta ahead 53-41 at the end of the run. His production was welcomed with 6-8 senior Joe Sargent in foul trouble.

“That was the best game I’ve seen him play,” said R-H guard Aaron Poles. “He came in and did a lot of little things, hustle plays. Tip-ins, putbacks, steals.

“It really helped us.”

Sargent led Rush-Henrietta with 13 points, followed by 11 for Betts, a 6-4 sophomore who helped his team with strong defensive rebounding in the second half.

“We came out in the first half like we were going to just blow them out,” said Betts. “Fairport is a good team. If you don’t come out ready, they will blow you out.

“They were killing us in the first half.”

Fairport was in control. The Red Raiders played strong near the basket in the first 16 minutes and led by as much as 15 points in the second quarter.

More importantly for the Red Raiders, they kept turnovers to a minimum, but that began to change during the third quarter.

“That totally kick-started their offense,” Fairport coach Scott Fitch said. “They are a team that takes chances, and you have to make them pay.”

The Royal Comets were the ones who capitalized on mistakes when they wiped away a nine-point deficit with a 10-0 run that gave them their first lead of the game, 37-36.

Fairport went ahead for the final time after Tyler Smith’s free throw completed a three-point play.

Cooper then came up with his run-igniting steal that led to a three-point play for Betts.

Poles extended Rush-Henrietta’s 40-39 lead at the start of the fourth quarter when he rattled in a 3-pointer.

The points kept coming for the Royal Comets, who missed 12 of their first 14 shots from the field during the second quarter.

“Fairport has a lot of guys that are 6 feet and taller,” said the 5-10 Poles.

“When they come out flying, with a hand in your face, it’s hard to get a nice, clean shot.

“We had to play tough and keep shooting. They started to fall in the third and fourth quarters.”