The North Greene boys did a lot of things well on Friday night, and coach Sam Tarlton hopes that a 65-40 win over Unaka gives his squad some confidence ahead of next week’s District 1-1A Tournament.
“I’m hoping a little feel-good win tonight can start a change for us,” Tarlton said. “We have one tough one left in the regular season, but then we have to get ready for the tournament. We just have to do the things we know how to do. A lot of it is focusing on some of the little things we have been coached to do that will make a difference in the tournament.”
Jason Britton was dominant on offense as usual on Friday with 28 points, but in addition to that the Huskies’ supporting cast stepped up on Friday. Then on defense the Huskies smothered a dangerous Rangers’ offense, holding it to less then half of its production from three weeks ago when Unaka earned an 84-75 win.
“I felt like we looked good for the first time in a long time,” Tarlton said. “A lot of it has to do with the defensive end, and I felt like we really came out and guarded tonight. We started making shots in the second half, which was good to see. I’m really proud of this effort. We had multiple guys being aggressive, and that is what we want. Even if we aren’t scoring, we need those guys attacking. That’s something we have been talking about a lot.”
Friday’s first quarter went back and forth with Landon Ramsey scoring six points to help Unaka to a 12-9 lead.
With 20 seconds left in the period Sam English came down the right baseline and bounced an artful pass to pass to Britton coming at him from the left side for a layup. The Huskies got a stop on the other end and as the horn sounded Britton launched a 30-footer to put North Greene on top 14-12.
The Huskies played from in front for the final 24 minutes.
Defense carried North Greene in the early portion of the second quarter as it held the Rangers to just two points.
On the offensive end English slashed through the lane for four points while Luca May nailed a triple as the lead grew to 23-14.
With 1:13 left in the period Unaka’s Johnny Douglas sank a three-pointer from deep in the corner to narrow the margin to 25-22. The Huskies took a 27-23 lead into intermission.
The second half began with North Greene’s Dennis Malone and Unaka’s Mason Wilson trading three-pointers.
Then the Huskies began to really assert their dominance and finished out the third quarter on a 26-2 run.
Lance Carico connected from behind the arc twice in the run and he scored eight of his 12 points in the third quarter.
“We’ve been waiting on Lance the whole year,” Tarlton said. “We thought that is what we were going to get from him every night, but that leg injury early set him back. Hopefully he builds on this.”
Britton got to the rim three times in the run while sinking a three-pointer and hitting three free throws to score 12 points during the Huskies’ hot streak. His final shot was a triple just before the horn that gave North Greene a 56-29 lead.
The fourth quarter started with Tim Humburger and English both scoring in transition as North Greene’s lead grew to 60-31.
The Huskies’ biggest lead came at 65-35 when Brody Franklin dropped in a three-pointer with 2:11 left to play.
English also finished in double figures with 10 points for the Huskies. Ramsey led Unaka with 18 points.
Prior to Friday’s game 1992 North Greene graduate Chuck Johnson was on hand as the Huskies recognized Britton for passing Johnson as North Greene’s All-Time leading scorer. Britton scored the 1,662nd point of career last week against South Greene. Britton was also recognized for being named a Class 1A Mr. Basketball finalist on Thursday. He is the Huskies’ first ever Mr. Basketball finalist.
North Greene will begin the District 1-1A Tournament on Friday, February 17 against University High at West Ridge High School. Before that the Huskies will travel to Sullivan East on Saturday.
North Greene 47, Unaka 41
The North Greene girls were able to hold off a late charge by Unaka on Friday night to earn a valuable 47-41 win on senior night.
“It was an emotional night, being senior night, and I thought we got off to a really good start,” North Greene coach James Buchanan said. “We came out locked in and focused despite the emotions. Once (Lyndie) Ramsey got into attack mode the momentum swung. And you know with a player like her, she’s not a Miss Basketball finalist for nothing, that that type of run can come. But we were able to make our free throws down the stretch to hold them off.”
With the win North Greene locks up the No.3 seed in the upcoming District 1-1A Tournament. That means North Greene avoids the play-in game and will automatically advance to the Region 1-1A Tournament. They also avoid having to play three-games in four days. North Greene will begin postseason play on Tuesday, February 14 against No.2 Cloudland at West Ridge High School.
“We only have eight bodies, and really we are going count heavily on those top five,” Buchanan said. “So, playing three games in four days would have been very difficult. We are glad we avoided that. We’ll play Cloudland on Tuesday at 8:00, but before that we have a tough one with Sullivan East. Hopefully we can fine tune some things tomorrow, and be ready to go for the Tournament.
Friday’s fourth quarter began with North Greene leading 34-24. To that point the Lady Huskies had held Lyndie Ramsey, the state’s leading scorer and a Miss Basketball finalist, to 10 points. But it was only a matter of time before Ramsey got going, and she scored 14 points in the final frame as she tried her best to rally the Lady Rangers.
With 4:35 left to play North Greene looked as though it might be able to capture a comfortable win on senior night when Grace Buchanan rattled in a triple to push the lead to 41-27.
Ramsey had other plans and she scored seven points over the next two minutes. With 2:01 left she hit a three-pointer to close the gap to 41-37.
With 16 seconds left Ramsey missed a three-point attempt, but was fouled putting back her own rebound. The charity toss that followed cut North Greene’s lead to 43-41.
Not a lot went right for North Greene over the final four minutes, but seniors Cambell Gaby and Grace Buchanan were able to combine for a 6-for-6 effort from the free-throw line in the final 32 seconds to keep the Lady Huskies in front.
“Cambell and Grace hit those free throws late to ice it, and I’m so proud of those two,” Buchanan said. “You could tell that they had been there before. A lot of teams are trying to foul everybody but Sonya (Wagner) down the stretch, so when those other kids can make free throws its huge. I think it’s very rewarding for them with all that they have been through.”
North Greene started Friday’s action about as well as it could have hoped on the defensive end, as it held Unaka to just two points in the frame. Gaby and Haley Bailey were disrupting in the paint and forced a handful of turnovers, while on the perimeter Sonya Wagner made it tough for Ramsey to find good looks.
On the offensive end Wagner and Hannah Miller each scored four points in the paint on the way to a 10-2 lead. Then with two seconds left in the quarter Miller knocked down a triple from straight way for a 13-2 advantage.
The second quarter was more of an offensive struggle for both teams, but Unaka’s Ramsey and Jill Faust both hit from behind the arc to cut North Greene’s lead to 20-13 at halftime.
In the third quarter Buchanan stretched the lead out to 27-17 when she hit from behind the arc.
The Lady Rangers closed the gap again when Haley Taylor hit from deep and Keyena Hagile knocked down a jumper from the elbow to make it 27-22.
Mercy Buchanan then set up Miller for a layup from the right block. In the final minute of the third quarter Wagner darted into the paint for a pair of buckets. She was fouled on the second shot and hit her free toss to put North Greene in front 34-22.
The quarter closed with North Greene leading 34-24.
Wagner led North Greene on Friday with 16 points. She was recognized prior to Friday’s game for scoring her 1,000th career point. Miller was also in double figures with 13 points.
Ramsey finished the night with 24 points to lead the way for the Lady Rangers.