2012-Team Stats Through Game 10
Individual Stats Through 10th Game
(No Stats for Game vs. Union Co. Stats)
All Photos By Josh Harwood FOR modelcitysports.com
All Photos By Josh Harwood FOR modelcitysports.com
By: Josh Harwood
Sullivan North came into 2013 with a lot of holes to fill on the mound and through the lineup from the past few years. The Raiders struggled as much as they have under Steve Dixon with losses to Unicoi County and University High by a combined score of 18-5. Dixon’s birthday just happened to come on Friday and his team gave him a present in the form of a slaughter-rule that got them in the win column. The Raiders finally started to put the bat on the ball and with the near no-hitter by Dalton Price combined for a 26-1 win over Twin Springs.
Dalton Price came out and set the tone early for the Raiders not allowing a hit until the 3rd quarter and striking out 6 of the first 10 batters. Cory Rowe started where he left off against University High with a walk and a steal, but Will Henshaw started off the striping of the ball with a triple that was feet from going out and pushing Rowe across home plate. Henshaw would end up going 4-4 on the day with 3 more singles.
“We were sort of in the unknown coming over here in our first game,” said Jeremy Culbertson coach for Twin Springs. “We just got to get this one out of our head and hopefully get better for league play.”
Sullivan North continued to hit around as the 2nd inning started with the top 4 hitters all loading the bases on walks or errors by the Twin Springs defense. Tyler Neal and Aaron Minninck both would knock the top of the lineup in with singles to end the inning up by 10. Price dotted the top of the 3rd with 3 strikeouts to close the half.
“Their guy (Price) just found the strike zone all day,” said Culbertson. “We tried to be aggressive, and we got a few good licks, but they went right to people.”
The flood gates opened for good in the 3rd as the Raiders would put 11 across the plate. North had 11 batters get hits and 6 had two drop in play. Ryan Anderson, Minnick, and Henshaw all got on base each time they came to the plate, but it would be Neal and Henshaw that combined for 7 RBIs.
Price finished the 5 inning game allowing just 2 hits while tossing 10 strikeouts on just 65 pitches on the night. Dixon mixed up the defense putting Cory Rowe at short and having Salyers man the hot corner. North plays at home against Johnson County next Tuesday.
By Josh Harwood
Sometimes things are best said bluntly and Raiders’ Coach Steve Dixon was not in the mood to beat around the bush after an 8-5 loss to University High. “You just can’t walk or hit 13 batters…it’s that simple,” stated Dixon after the loss. “We just can’t put that many people on base and expect to win.”
The Raiders (0-2) came out of the gate like gang busters with 5 runs in the 1st, but ended up leaving 9 runners in scoring position. Cory Rowe kicked started the game with a hit deep into the left-centerfield gap that ended up with Rowe gaining a triple. Bryson Saylers drove in Rowe 1 pitch later that was followed up by a Will Henshaw rocket that the Bucs (2-0) shortstop coughed up making it 2-0. After 2 more walks to load the bases, a double by Nick Copas cleared the bags to make it 5-0.
“We have done this for two years,” said Dixon. “I don’t know what it is, we just lose focus and forget how to put the ball in play.”
University High on the other hand struggled to find any contact with Aaron Minnick on the mound. It wouldn’t be until the 4th inning that Minnick gave up the first hit, but he still had a run cross the plate on an error that made it 4-1 as he left the mound and was replaced by Seth Maxwell. The Bucs got on base the hard way with 4 hit-batters during the inning that led to 3 more runs and the game was on as Chase Arnold got the Raiders out of the jam with the lead still at 5-4.
“We did a lot of good things after that terrible start,” stated Bucs skipper Josh Petty. “Our pitchers settled down and threw strikes and I think with how shaky they were on the mound that was the key to our comeback.”
The Bucs would tie the game in the 6th on a single from Andy Hardin, but Brett Peters got the squad out of the jam after throwing the runner out at 2nd. The momentum had completely switched to the motivated University High dugout and after a quick bottom of the 6th the Bucs got right back to scoring. Arnold started to get a bit erratic and a single from the bat of Ben Jackson finally gave the Bucs a 2 run lead. Jackson eventually would score to close the scoring out for the Bucs.
The Raiders looked to be aggressive in the bottom of the 7th, but 2 strikeouts would bookend the inning giving Zak Vicars the win after pitching 3 scoreless innings to close out the night. Chase Arnold took the loss for the Raiders. Sullivan North will look to get back on track against Twin Springs on Friday at 6.
Box Score :
By Josh Harwood
“These kids have made up one of the most impressive groups to ever come through North; I just wish I could have had more time with this senior class. We did a lot together and they made Sullivan North a player once again.” – North coach Jay Gregory stated emotionally in post game.
In what has become the best rivalry in the NET area over the past 2 years it had to come down to Sullivan North and Elizabethton. North really kicked started the rivalry with a thumping of them in the Fall of 2011 on their way to the quarterfinals in football, however the basketball situation has been one-sided. Tuesday night came down to win or go home and you could tell in warm-ups that the seniors on both sides weren’t ready to go home and the tension in the Treadway Arena was the thickest it had been all year.
From the outset North looked like they had in the previous 2 meetings with Elizabethton and jumped out to a quick 9-4 lead behind a charged Chase Arnold. The Raiders junked the zone defense they had played in most of their previous two games for a straight man defense that bothered the Cyclones for most of the night. The defense helped keep an eye on the quartet of shooters that Elizabethton likes to spot up from the arch.
“During every time out I thought we were going to win and I told them that,” said Gregory. “We played with everything and this team deserved to win…”
Zake Clark seemed to be a thorn in the side of North all year and he was the one true point guard on the floor that opened thing up for his teammates. With the game at 17-15, Clark hit Zach Norwood for the assist to tie the game, followed by a two off a steal to take the lead for the first time. North’s Kairi Thompson came in and harassed Clark and forced him to the bench with 2 fouls early in the 2nd, but North went cold and Betsy found some opening down low to run off a 10-0 stretch and closed the half up 28-19.
The 2rd quarter had been the key to every game in the North-Betsy rivalry and déjà vu entered the arena when Tyler Nichols knocked down a three to kick off the 2nd half. After not making a 3 the entire first half, Betsy found some openings and pushed the lead to as large as 15 on an Alex Baughman trey that made it 43-28 with little time left in the 3rd quarter forcing Gregory to call a time-out.
“I knew this wasn’t going to be how we went out,” said Gregory. “We fought and we have done this 3-4 times this year, where we have gotten down and fought with everything we had to come back.”
North continued their struggles from the line (shot 60% on the night) and after another miss Cory Rowe made a great steal and found Arnold for a quick two and then the Raiders found their shot as Rowe put up a quick 3 to close it back to 9. Yet, Clark found his defense to answer the quick strike assisting on a basket then a steal and score to go back up by 13. Arnold was fouled shooting a 3 with .8 seconds left on the clock and after making 2 of 3 the game was at 11 with a quarter remaining.
“This is one special group of kids,” stated Gregory, “It has nothing to do with me…I wish I could have had more time with them, but Special teams don’t always win championships.”
North turned up everything they had as the 4th quarter kicked off and ran within a possession of the Cyclones as Arnold scored 9 of the next 12 points to make it a 1 point game. However, Clark and Betsy answered right back getting to the foul line to make 7 of 8 and push the lead back to 8 at 59-51.
With just under 2 minutes left, the Raiders made a push that had everyone in Treadway Arena on their feet. Grayson Ball kept getting put backs and after 6 straight points the game was suddenly a 1 possession game at 60-57, but time was ticking away. Clark remained the thorn in the Raiders die making 4 free throws to close the night out at 67-58. The Raiders slowly fouled out and a historic season came to an end in one of the most furious comebacks I have seen.
“I don’t have the words to say what I truly feel about this team,” said Gregory, “but you know what makes me happy…this is not the greatest thing any of these kids will do in their lifetimes. They are really special and I couldn’t say enough of how happy I am to be their coach.”
By Josh Harwood
Sullivan North hasn’t been to the 2nd round of the Regional’s in this century and barely been out of the District’s that much. Jay Gregory has gotten the Raiders to their furthest point with the loss of two role players (Austin McReynolds and Dylan Mann) to transfer and despite that his squad is playing its best of the year. However, to get the season going they have to get by their biggest rival on their turf. Elizabethton has won 4 straight over the Raiders, and besides a 1st half in the last contest between the two, the Cyclones have been dominant.
The two teams have really begun to be the most interesting rivalry in the Three Rivers over the past two years on the court, field, and everywhere else. The Raiders have won 4 of 5, while Betsy is even hotter taking 13 of 14. Gregory has tried to change the North philosophy ever since the last regular season game after watching a lot of film.. He stated after the Consolation win in the Districts: “We just don’t take our time to actually set up our offense. I timed how much we averaged on offense and we were right above 7 seconds per play. With the talent we have we need to move the ball better and actually look for the open shooter instead of just shooting when we get it near our goal.”
Elizabethton coach Lucas Honeycutt doesn’t want to change what works and seems to think their talent will win out; “We have really good guard play and I think if we play solid there we can beat them. However, we can’t let Chase (Arnold) go off for 30 or 40 unless we completely shut down everyone else. If we play our game I think we can advance and that’s all it’s about right now.”
Scouting North Offense & Betsy Defense: North’s new found patience can’t do anything but help the Raiders and their drive for the Sub-State. The Biggest problem they have is when they face teams with a backcourt with length and Betsy has plenty of length with Zeke Clark (6’1) and Alex Baughman (6’4). The Cyclones switch from a man to a 3-2/2-3 zone at times and when they want to make a run they like to turn up a zone press.
North is known to let Chase Arnold dominate the ball with Cory Rowe starting as a point guard for defense mainly. Trevor Williams is deadly from the wing and corner, but if Chase isn’t scoring they always have Grayson Ball down low who is know for being one of the better 2nd chance players while averaging around 2 offensive boards a game – the team averages 10 – which come a lot from tips from Ball keeping the play alive. Ball and Arnold have trouble with the size of the frontcourt against Elizabethton, they have 7 players over 6’4. This is where Andrew Hawkins comes in and the 6’5 senior has the ability to put up 12 and 5. He also has to try and help Ball on the offensive glass, which he has done an excellent job down the stretch. If Arnold and Ball just hit on their averages (24.4 and 15 ppg) the Raiders just need to have Williams and Thompson or the new 3 point gunner Dalton fill in the gaps. The last game was one of the worst for Arnold who shot just 35 % from the field (8-23) and the Raiders were outscored by 25 in the 2nd half. However, Ball tossed in 14 and the two combined for 39 of the 48 points North scored. To say the least, Ball and Arnold are going to need help and if they score their average (67 ppg) they should be able to advance….but its going to be tough
Scouting the Cyclone Offense and North Defense: The Cyclones have scored 74 and 78 against the Raiders each time this year, which comes to a 76 average (9 points above the season average), and to say the least North can help their offense out a lot if they can somehow stop the on slot of the Cyclones from outside. North started in a 3-2 zone with Chase upfront and they paid dearly for it as the Cyclones have shot over 50 % from the arch against the Raiders this year. The thing that North wants to emulate is the passing skills that the Cyclones possess, in 29 made shots they had 25 assist in the last game. Almost all of the assist came in the transition or swinging the ball over the zone to find Tyler Miller and Baughman, who each had 3 treys.
The Raiders are going to have to make things harder on Clark, in my opinion, they have to break from the zone and put someone athletic like Rowe or Thompson on the 6’1 guard to keep him from dropping 9 dimes as he did last time. North also needs to find a way to make sure they take advantage of their advantages on defense and box out so Elizabethton doesn’t get extra chances. Miller is going to probably score 15-20, but the true x-factor is Will Robinson. He has the ability to drive as well as stretch the defense with great shooting ability. The Elizabethton squad looks a lot like the Orlando Magic team from 2007, which set a record for 3’s in the NBA, both teams played with 4 wing players that can get hot at any moment from the arch. North can’t leave anyone open and has to play man and not leave their man…but if they do play a zone they can’t let Miller have a picnic inside. Hawkins will rotate with Arnold and Ball and his presence could make things more difficult for the long, but skinny Cyclones.
North: Chase Arnold (6’5 G/F Sr.) 25.4 ppg, 9 rebounds, 3 assist, and 3 steals
Grayson Ball (6’4 F Jr.) 15 ppg, 8 rebounds, 3 assist, and 1.5 blocks
Trevor Williams (5’9 Jr.) 9.7 ppg, 3.3 assist, and 2.2 steals
Cory Rowe (5’11 Sr.) 4 ppg, 4 ast, 3 boards, and 2 steals
Kairi Thompson (5’10 Sr.) 6 ppg, 2ast, and 3 boards
North Team Stats: 2FG: 50% 3FG: 28% TFG: 44% FT:69%
Totals: PPG: 68.4 Ast: 17.6 Oreb: 10.2 Dreb: 20.4 Blk: 2.7 Stl: 10.9 TO :14.1
By Josh Harwood
With a game starting earlier than most knew, it caught some players and fns by surprise as every found out the game kicked off at 7. Johnson County and Sullivan North had little to play for, yet the fact that the two would be opening the District tournament on Friday against one another, the amount each team would show their hand was the main problem.
Sullivan North looked rusty early most of the players had little time to warm up and fell behind by 4 at the end of the 1st quarter. The 2nd quarter saw the Raiders turn it on and outscore the Longhorns by 6 to take the lead and hold off a late charge by Johnson County to win the game and become the 4th seed in the District playoffs.
Chase Phillips led the charge early on for the Longhorns with 10 points in the 1st half. The only problem came in the awakening of the North offense from 3 point range in the 2nd period. The Raiders knocked down 4 treys in a short stretch, including 2 from Hunter Jones to grab the lead. Chase Arnold added 12 points in the 2nd quarter which made it 38-36 at the half.
“We didn’t have much of an answer for Chase (Arnold) during that stretch in the 2nd quarter, if at all,” said Longhorn’s Coach Austin Atwood. “We fought back hard and I think we found some things that worked in the 2nd half. It’s what we are going to be trying on Friday so we hope we have something.”
The 2nd half became an intense battle that saw each team wanting to make a statement before Friday’s do or die game in the 1st round of the Districts. Sullivan North’s Chase Arnold slowly became colder with the ‘2-3’3 defense for the Longhorns and the plugging of the lanes it provided.
“We have played against zones all year,” said Gregory, “but we just seem to always fall into a hot and/or cold pattern when the other team focuses on it.”
Grayson Ball and Chase Arnold controlled the action in the 2nd half as each traded off to make sure no lull kicked like the past few games. However, it was the surprise performance of Andrew Hawkins that truly kept the Raiders in control of the 2nd half. Hawkins had 3 offensive rebounds that resulted in putbacks in the 4th quarter alone.
Bryan Dempsey was most of the offense for the Longhorns in the 2nd half, scoring 16 of his 20 points in the final 16 minutes. Cory Rowe had one of his better games at the point guard slot with 4 points and 6 assist. It was still Chase Arnold with 24 points and 10 rebounds who dominated the output giving the Raiders the win in the end.
Up Next: Both Teams Head for a Collision Course against One Another in the District Tournament on Friday 2/15
By Josh Harwood
Sullivan North said Goodbye to a Senior Class that set records and filled J. Richard Carroll gym with some of the best moments in recent North basketball history. However, as the tears dried the Elizabethton Cyclones ruined a storybook ending for the careers of Chase Arnold, Cory Rowe, Sam Brashear, Andrew Hawkins, and Kairi Thompson. Elizabethton used a big 2nd half, including a 22-4 run through out the 4th quarter to end the night by 74-48 margin.
“We knew it was going to be an uphill battle,” said North coach Jay Gregory, “but we just continue to have a 2-3 minute stretch that cost us the games we have lost everytime…even when we have one we have some lulls, but it just is more pronounced in the losses.”
The Raiders came out set in a 2-3 zone and it had its moments, but the Cyclones set up on the outside instead of using their size in the clogged paint. The Raiders were late on a lot of rotations allowing Alex Bachmann and Aaron Miller for wide open shots. The two combined for 4 treys in the first half alone.
The Cyclones had trouble on the defensive end with stopping Chase Arnold, who came out looking to put up a showing to go out on. The senior scored 15 of the first 17 North points, but from that point on struggled with his shot. Grayson Ball carried the team with 10 points from the low block in the 2nd period.
“They have a really good team and we didn’t have an answer for Chase (Arnold),” said Cyclones coach Lucas Honeycutt. “We were finding some openings on the offensive end and I just think we had to keep playing the full 32 minutes and we could catch them.”
Down just by 1 at the half, 35-34, the Raiders began to struggle as the Cyclones slowly pulled away. Forcing 8 steals in the game, 6 in the 2nd half, the Cyclones got the transition game going with Zeke Clark driving and kicking it to Will Robinson and Zach Norwood. Clark finished with 9 assist on the night.
North actually played the first few minutes tight with the Cyclones staying within 4 points, but a 10-4 run closed the quarter with a 8 point lead. The flood came roaring in as the Raiders started to press a bit and even maybe some panic set in.
“This is what happens to us too many times this year,” said Gregory. “We were right there with them and just couldn’t answer their run with one of our own. Maybe its just we don’t have an answer at the most pivotal time, but I just hate how it went. The guys try so hard and we just keep losing the game n a 2-3 minute stretch.”
The Cyclones stormed into the 4th with a 14-0 run that ended all hopes for the Raiders. With the lead at 64-44 and just 5 minutes North went into a man to man press, but it was all too late as the game ended on another 10-4 run.
Gregory did get time to put in all of the 2nd and 3rd team so each senior could get a standing ovation as they said goodbye to the families and fans that have cheered on the seniors for the past 4 years. Arnold ended the night with 25 points and 8 rebounds to end the game at 2036, which puts him in sight of 2050 with one game to go.
Up Next: Johnson County welcomes Sullivan North next Monday and the Districts start on the 14th at Elizabethton High School were the Raiders will face Johnson County in the first round
Highlighted Players: Players of the Game
By Josh Harwood
After an impressive win over Volunteer on Wednesday the Golden Raiders looked to be back on track after losing 5 of 7 and looking vulnerable in conference play. After 2 quarters of play the Raiders looked like the dominant team against 3rd place, Unicoi County. The Blue Devil’s started to control the pace and jumped out on a 15-5 run to take a 7 point lead late in the 4th quarter. After some controversial calls, the Raiders comeback would fall just short as the Blue Devil’s controlled the overtime period by a score of 13-5 and walked away with the 79-71 win.
The contest between Unicoi County and Sullivan North are always tense as the rival’s they are, but the added drama of the game always makes the tension even thicker. The Raiders jumped out early and North coach Jay Gregory used a 1-2-1-1 press to push the Blue Devils into mistakes. Chase Arnold continued his quest for 2000 points and came into the game 63 points short. However, he needed his teammates if they were to upset the ## team in the Three Rivers conference.
The game started to lean the way of Gold and Black as Trevor Williams got free and Kairi Thompson found the dead-eye shooter to put them ahead at 19-17. After 3 consecutive 2 pointers off of assist, Williams pushed the lead out to 6 at 29-23. Chase Arnold found Grayson Ball to make it 42-35 at the half, which was the largest lead of the night.
“We had some trouble with their press early on,” stated Blue Devils’ coach Michael English, “but they lagged off and we aren’t a team with great guard play and I think it made it easier for us.”
With the Raiders up by 7 to kick off the half, the Blue Devils went on a 11-4 run that tied things up at 46 all on a trey from Ethan Rice. However, it looked like North had an answer each time Unicoi made a run in the 3rd quarter, but the 4th quarter was mostly all Unicoi. Conner Simpson pushed a lead to 3 and 2 following free throws saw the game slowly getting away from the Raiders.
“We just don’t answer runs well,” said Gregory. “We had 3 people almost in 20, which ruins my thought that we couldn’t lose that way, but Unicoi got hot at the right time and we felled to answer, especially in overtime.”
After another Conner Simpson putback the score was 62-55 and things were looking bleak for the Raiders midway through the 4th quarter. Simpson would be hit with a foul and a following technical foul that opened things up for North to get back into the game as Grayson Ball knocked down 4 straight free throws to cut the lead to 3 and also gain possession.
The game started to get a bit out of hand as Kairi Thompson broke out on a steal. After banking the ball on a layup the ball was interfered with, which should have been called goaltending giving the Raiders the lead, but the Refs were out of possession and gave the block to the Devils. However, Trevor Williams closed it to a one point game at 62-21 on their next possession, but the Blue Devils answered back with a free throw to put the lead back to 3. The game came down to a last possession for Ball from Cory Rowe who put it in to tie the game at 66 with just over 10 seconds left.
“I thought if we could survive to overtime we could put the pressure on them and ull away,” said English. “We got hot and they went cold at the worst time, which gave us the win, but it was tough and its going to be tough come tournament time with them.”
The overtime period was all Unicoi County as the opened up on a 9-0 run that killed the Raiders’ hopes in the 4 minute extra period. It took over 3 minutes and 30 seconds before North ever got on the board and by the time Chase Arnold cut it to 7 at 75-68 it was too late. The game ended with Unicoi on top at 79-71.
Though ejected, Conner Simpson led Unicoi with 18 points and 12 rebounds. North was led by Chase Arnold with 18 points, 7assist, 15 rebounds, and 2 steals. Grayson Ball added 20 points and 11 rebounds.
Raiding Trio: Sullivan North puts 3 Player’s over 20 to Knock off Big Eight challenger Volunteer, 85-75
By Josh Harwood
Sullivan North came into Wednesday night playing another odd game on a odd night, but just the 3rd in 3 weeks. After a rusty go at it against Elizabethton, the Raiders looked in their peak as they took it to a Volunteer team that had not scored more than 50 points in 7 straight losses. The two teams wanted different things out of the game, with Volunteer wanting to show energy and fight, while North wanted to get back into the win column after losing 3 straight. North won out winning the game by 10 to get back on the winning streak as the District tourneys closed in.
By Josh Harwood
After playing 6 games in 10 days, Sullivan North was faced with an unexpected 11 day break after the snow storm cancelled out most local games last week. The rust of the break shown early as Sullivan East built a lead hitting on 40% (10-25) from three-point range. Sullivan North started to find their game in transition and cut an 11 point halftime lead to 2 with seconds remaining. However, East put it away with two free throws to ice the lead and stay perfect in conference.
The night started in a celebratory manner as Chase Arnold put his name on top of the North record books with 1793 points to lead all great scorers that has graced the Bloomingdale court. The Raiders used the pomp and circumstance to jump out to an 8-0 lead, with Graysn ball scoring half. However, Sullivan East would one-up the Raiders with their own 10-0 run to take the lead for the first time on the night.
“We didn’t want to let Chase (Arnold) have his way,” said Patriots coach John Dyer. “You can’t completely stop him, but you can try to make things hard on him and hopefully tire him a bit.”
Sullivan East is a team that is known to protect the ball and jack a lot of three’s, yet North let them shoot from the arch, but they forced them into some terrible offensive possessions. The only problem was that North’s transition offense wasn’t converting on the turnovers. North got settled into being a jump shooting team and it back fired as Austin Fleenor pushed the lead to 11 on two treys as the half came to a close.
“We did a lot of things well tonight,’ said North coach Jay Gregory, “but our defensive pressure didn’t return many points as we should have.”
The two teams came out shooting a bit better and trading barbes until North’s defense finally broke through, leading to a 7-0 run that closed the 11 point lead to 2 at 40-38. Cory Rowe found Trevor Williams for the trey off a Kairi Thompson steal that forced the 2 point deficit. North got themselves within sight of the Patriots, but they always stalled out at 2 points.
“North really forced us to play their pace,” said Dyer, “but we always had an answer to their runs, but we need games like this…always good for the future.”
Sullivan East spread the love around as they handled a pumped up crowd and an aggressive Raiders’ defense that forced 21 turnovers for the whole game. David Cassady did his best to cancel out Chase Arnold’s 21 points with 17 of his own. Grayson Ball turned in the only double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Cassaday looked to push the Patriots into the lead for good on a trey to make it a 6 point lead at 50-44 with just over 2 minutes on the clock, but an Arnold and 1 got everyone off their seats. After fouling, Arnold got fouled on the next possession to close the score to 51-49 and the tension was at a boil, but East closed it out with 2 clutch Jordan James free throws to seal the deal at 53-49.
Key Players of the Game
Up Next: Sullivan North heads to Johnson County on Friday, as East will host Elizabethton for first place in the Three Rivers
Raiders Show Off Their New Trophy...Pictures by Josh Harwood for ModelCitySports.com
By Josh Harwood
After 3 days of mediocre basketball the New Peoples Bank Holiday Classic was looking like it would not live up to the usual hype of the annual local tradition. Saturday Night made all 3 day’s worth the price of admission as the Championship bout between Sullivan South and Sullivan North more than lived up to the hype that all rubber matches bring. South came out on top for the 2nd time of 3 for the year on a controversial win 73-62.
North and South have played two entirely different games this year. North likes to jump out quick and ease it in for the win, while South has made some of the best comebacks of the Big Eight in the past week. North has been a more consistent, but tonight the game was made up of streaks and foul shots.
“We wanted to come out with good energy and I think we did that,” said South coach Mark Pendleton. “We are playing a lot of sophomores and we are going to be up and down but it was still good to see how much they wanted this win.”
South started fast jumping all over North in the first quarter. The 16 points South put together in the first 8 minutes were just 2 short of what they had scored in the last 2 games’ 1st quarters combined. Ryan Headrick knocked down two 3’s in the first 2 minutes to produce a 9-6 lead and Michael Harr found openings against the North zone as well.
“We seemed to focus too much on everything else,” said North’s coach Jay Gregory. “We started sluggish and got in foul trouble early and it hurt us in every way.”
The 2nd quarter became a case of back and forth hoping to stay close enough for a charge in the 2nd half for the Raiders. South opened up the period with a quick -0 run to push the lead to 13. After a 3 by Ryan Headrick to make it 31-19, North went on a run kicked off by Kairi Thompson and 5 straight points to cut it to 31-28. A Grayson Ball put back made the score a 6 point game following a 3 from Mitchell Crowe.
“We did some good things at times,” said Gregory, “but at times I think we showed some fatigued and South is a well coached team and they pushed the pace.”
The 3rd period was much like the 2nd quarter, a round of runs. South fired off the first shot jumping to a double digit lead with a trey. Chase Arnold and Cory Rowe closed the gap once again getting to the line and shrinking the lead to 5 at 51-48. The 2nd half also got chippy as 27 fouls were called and helped push the South lead back into double digits.
“They shot a crazy percentage from the line,” said Gregory, “When we dared them to beat us from the line and you go 28-31 from the line you deserve to win.”
South got into the bonus quickly in the 2nd half that was helped by a “controversial” technical on Jacoby Thompson. The Rebels’ shot 25 free throws in the 2nd half knocking down 23 of them to hurt North’s chances. The game got out of hand when Ryan Headrick knocked down 8 straight free throw attempts to push the lead to 66-55. North tried it’s best to come back, but the fatigue factor of 6 games in 9 days was too much to over come as the Rebels took the crown for their 2nd time at the New People’s Bank Classic.
The 2nd place finish was the best ever finish for a Raiders’ squad in their own Holiday tourney. “We did a lot of good things over the past few days,” said Gregory. “South is a tough team and they jumped on us and we were a bit fatigued in the end.”