But that didn’t stop him from leading the Crusaders to a second consecutive appearance in the championship game.
Rouse scored 22 points as Curtis Baptist cruised past Dawson Street 64-43 Wednesday in the Class A semifinals at Mercer University’s Hawkins Arena.
“I’m thankful to be here. I didn’t witness it last year, but it’s a great feeling this year,” Rouse said. “I tried to get in there and draw a couple fouls, get to the line, keep my team energetic.”
Rouse was assisted by big contributions from his teammates, with Ian McDaniel adding 10 points and Rodney Snell and Micah Ryals contributing nine apiece.
“It was a team effort,” Curtis Baptist coach John Spurlock said. “Each one of those guys who came in today knew what they had to do. They played hard, played through some adversity. We didn’t play extremely well, but they kept on, kept on, and we were able to come out victorious.”
The Crusaders got off to a 16-8 opening quarter before stretching it to a 12-point lead at halftime.
The Wildcats hung in with a 13-point third quarter to head to the fourth with the Crusaders leading 44-30. Rouse had nine points in the 20-point fourth to put Dawson Street away.
Ryals went 5 of 6 from the free-throw line to give the Crusaders a boost.
Overall, the Crusaders shot 25 of 51 on a solid effort around the rim. Curtis Baptist held the Wildcats to 13 of 56 shooting, including 4 of 14 3-point shooting from senior sharp-shooter Jon Horne.
“We saw them play Saturday,” Spurlock said. “(Horne) shot the ball extremely well that day. From talking to some other coaches, he was their best player. We knew that we had to put some defense to him.”
Curtis Baptist will play Oak Mountain for a shot at back-to-back state titles at 1:40 p.m Saturday at Mercer. The Warriors beat Crisp Academy 64-49, a game that was close until the fourth quarter, to advance to the championship game.
“I was able to watch them a little bit last week,” Spurlock said. “They’re both very good teams, well-coached, well-disciplined teams, and I know it’s gonna be a tough game on Saturday whichever team we face.”