The Rural Retreat Indians overcame a sluggish first period and held off Auburn down the stretch to defeat the Eagles 51-43 in a Mountain Empire District boys basketball game played Tuesday night at RRHS.

Auburn jumped out to an 11-6 first quarter lead, but Rural Retreat came back in the second quarter to outscore the Eagles 12-5 and take a 18-16 lead at halftime.

Rural Retreat improved to 1-9 in the district and 9-10 overall. Auburn fell to 2-8 in the district and 4-16 overall.

Rural Retreat Head Coach Bryan Sexton said, “We knew coming in that we had to play with a lot of energy and limit our mistakes. We play in one of the toughest district in the state top to bottom in 1A basketball. And every night out you have to bring your A game.”

With just eight players on the Auburn bench Tuesday night, the coach said his team took advantage of that. “I told our guys before the game that Auburn didn’t have much depth on their bench, and that we had to get their guys in foul trouble early. We did a good job of that, and it paid off at the end. I’m really proud of our team this year for their effort and their never-give-up attitude. We seem to be peaking at the right time, which has been our main goal all season.”

The Indians were led in scoring by Tyler Fiscus with 21 points, including 11-of-11 from the free throw line. Those 21 points left Fiscus just six points shy of 1,000 for his varsity career (He achieved that goal in the game against Chilhowie on Wednesday night). Colton Goolsby added 11 points for RR. Auburn was led by Austin Ford with 14 points and Dylan Akers with 11.

Chris Dunford, who scored nine points in the game, staked Rural Retreat to a 2-0 lead with a jumper in the opening seconds.

The Eagles, however, answered to outscore the Indians 11-6 in the opening period.

Rural Retreat then staged a rally of its own in the second quarter and regained the lead in dramatic fashion when Fiscus was fouled attempting a three-pointer with less than a second left in the first half. He converted all three of the ensuing free throws to give RR a slim 18-16 lead at intermission.

The Eagles kept the game close in the third quarter and regained the lead after a three-pointer by Ford put Auburn on top at 24-23, and prompted RR to call a time-out.

Fiscus answered quickly for the Indians with a three-pointer to grab back the lead.

The Eagles tied the score later in the third quarter, but the Indians held onto a 34-33 lead going into the final quarter.

The lead was still just one point early in the fourth quarter when a technical foul was called against Auburn. Fiscus sank both free throws at the 5:29 mark, Nathan Deel followed that with a three-pointer, and Justice Williams scored from in close on the next trip down the floor to boost Rural Retreat’s lead to 43-35.

The Eagles tried to keep it close over the final minutes, but the Indians kept its lead mostly due to 8-of-10 free throw shooting over the last two minutes.

Rural Retreat is scheduled for quad games on Tuesday at George Wythe.

Auburn 11 5 17 10 – 43

R. Retreat 6 12 16 17 – 51

Auburn – Austin Ford (two 3-pointers) 4 0-0 14, Dylan Akers (two 3-pointers) 1 3-5 11, Daniel Brotherton 3 0-0 6, Carter Vance 2 0-0 4, Chase Phillips 1 0-0 2, Lukas Matthews 1 0-0 2, Carson Perkins 1 2-4 4.

Rural Retreat – Lane Ketner 0 1-2 1, Tyler Fiscus (two 3-pointers) 2 11-11 21, Chris Dunford (one 3-pointer) 3 0-0 9, Colton Goolsby (one 3-pointer) 2 4-9 11, Nathan Deel (one 3-pointer) 0 0-0 3, Justice Williams 2 2-4 6.

(T – 1:21)

J.V. game: Auburn 51, Rural Retreat 15.

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