After a recent rough stretch the North Greene boys buckled down on defense on Thursday night and got back on track with a 51-41 win over University High.
“I was so proud of our defensive effort,” North Greene coach Sam Tarlton said. “We want to defend first, that is North Greene basketball. (University High) is a really good offensive team, they have some great shooters, but I thought we did a great job on them. Anytime you can hold a good team to 41 it’s a good day. Hopefully this gets us back on the right track, because it’s been a rough two weeks.”
The Buccaneers had not been held under 65 points since the calendar turned to 2023, but the Huskies came out determined on Thursday. They did not let University’s dangerous shooters find space on the perimeter and then North Greene was quick to attack the boards to limit its opponent to one shot.
“We had to guard the ball, cover gaps, we had to help outside the paint, cover down, rotate and rebound,” Tarlton said. “Those are the things we have to do all the time, and we just haven’t been doing them.”
North Greene started the second half trailing 22-21, but on the opening possession of the third quarter the Huskies took the lead when Luca May found Jason Britton cutting to the back door for a layup. Britton was fouled on the play and gave North Greene a 24-22 advantage.
Three-pointers from May and Sam English followed to push North Greene’s lead to 30-22.
Jordan Carter did his best to bring University back into the contest, and he scored the Buccaneers’ next nine points. With 1:10 left in the period he stole the ball on one end and turned it into a midrange jumper on the other to cut North Greene’s lead 33-31.
Britton quickly answered with a layup, and North Greene pushed its lead to 37-31 when Britton sent a pass across the paint to Yeshua Vaught for a bucket.
Points were hard to find early in the fourth quarter and North Greene did not get a field goal to fall until there was 3:46 left in the action. It was a wide open layup by Britton and it gave the Huskies a 40-35 lead.
University High regained the lead with 1:48 left when Carter took a steal the length of the floor for a 41-40 advantage.
The Huskies, who had seen the lead get away from them in each of their last four outings, did not panic and calmly brought the ball up the floor. They were intentional about finding the right shot and with 1:12 left it was Britton coming down the baseline for a floater that put North Greene back on top.
“We’re young and maybe a little bit of experience is finally showing,” Tarlton said. “It’s time for these guys to start turning the corner, and hopefully this win after some tough adversity can get us going.”
On the trip the other way Pete Boynewicz watched his jumper from the lane clang off the iron and Bennett McLain snatched the rebound for North Greene.
Boynewicz then let the game get away from the Bucs on defense when he fully extended to grab Britton from behind which resulted in an intentional foul. A few unkind words to the referee added a technical foul and then University head coach Herman was awarded a technical for bemoaning the official’s decision.
With 26 seconds left Britton went 5-of-6 at the free-throw line. With the ball back Britton was fouled again and put in two more free ones for seven points in a four-second stretch.
Britton finished the night with 31 points despite the Bucs double teaming him for most of the night.
“Jason has been a stud all year, but that is an every night thing from him. He stepped up and made some big free throws down the stretch. What can you say? He’s Jason,” Tarlton said.
The night started with the Bucs getting the first advantage at 6-2 when Drew Finley turned a steal by A.J. Murphy into an easy layup.
North Greene scored the next six points, and a bucket in transition by English put North Greene in front 8-6 at the midway point of the first quarter.
Murphy closed the period with two three-pointers and gave University a 14-8 lead at the close of the first period.
That lead grew to 20-11 when Andrew Cole sank a triple from the left wing, but over the final two minutes of the first half the Huskies began to claw back. May, Britton and Dennis Malone all got inside to close the gap to 20-17. Then with after getting the ball back with six seconds left Britton went the length of the floor and closed the gap to 22-21.
Murphy led University High with 15 points while Carter scored 11 points.
University High 14 8 9 10 41
North Greene 8 13 16 14 52
University High: Murphy 15, Carter 11, Cole 7, Boynewicz 6, Finley 2
North Greene: Britton 51, English 7, May 6, Malone 4, Vaught 2, McLain 1