Northern boys run past Holly Springs
The Northern High School boys basketball team’s 4-A East Regional first-round game against Holly Springs more show than game on Monday.
Within the first few minutes it was clear that the Knights, the No. 2 seed, were putting together an exhibition on par with a Harlem Globetrotters against Washington Generals show en route to defeating the No. 31-seeded Golden Hawks 93-41 at home.
The Knights, running their motion offense and playing team basketball as nine different players netted at least one assist, turned the game into an artful display of basketball even as their starters spent more than half the game on the bench.
“It was a good start as far as the first round of the playoffs,” Northern coach Ronnie Russell said. “We wanted to come out real strong, and I think we did.”
A pair of 3-pointers got the Knights off to a fast start. Jaquan Harris found Timothy Crutchfield for a corner 3-pointer. Crutchfield then found Ricky Council for a 3-pointer on the Knights’ next possession to take a 6-2 lead.
The bench squad did not disappoint as all five starters were relieved with 2:22 left in the first quarter and would remain out until the second period. Isaiah Townsend scored on the reserves’ first possession for Northern.
In warm ups the Knights wore new shirts over their jerseys with a slogan printed on the front that rang true throughout the game: “We over Me.”
Eleven different players scored for Northern.
“I wanted everyone to play,” said Russell of his deep rotation. “There was no need to keep my starters out there the whole time.
“I wanted those guys (the reserves) to play just in case we run into a situation where they have to get into the game too. We’re trying to iron some stuff out with them still.”
Emmett Tilley and Townsend led the Knights’ bench, scoring 12 and 10 points, respectively.
The Knights led by 13 points entering the second quarter. Harris started the quarter off with a steal which he took to the other end of the floor for an and-1 lay up. He missed the free throw attempt, but Kentrell Barkley grabbed the rebound and put it up for a score, seamlessly giving the Knights a 17-point lead.
The remaining interest in the game was to see what highlight-worthy plays the Knights would make.
Barkley threw down a dunk after another Holly Springs turnover as the Knights took a 19-point lead in the second quarter. Barkley wasted no time on the next possession, throwing a football-style pass three-fourths the length of the floor to Council, who again threw the ball down the hoop from a position above the rim.
Northern led 46-13 at halftime.
One of the few mistakes made by Northern in the game was when Barkley attempted to throw Council an alley-oop pass early in the fourth quarter. The ball sailed too high, above Council’s head, only to hit the backboard and bounce into Barkley’s hands for an easy layup.
Council and Barkley led all scorers with 16 and 15 points, respectively.
However, the highlights were not limited to Barkley and Council’s plays. Northern’s motion offense led to aesthetically pleasant plays near the hoop as demonstrated when Avion Jordan found a cutting Jamal Goodlow under the basket for an open layup late in the fourth quarter.
Northern advances to Wednesday’s second round against No 18 seed Apex Middle Creek, which eliminated No.15 Wilmington Hoggard 50-41 on Monday night.
Northern 93, Holly Springs 41
Holly Springs |6 |7 |10 |18 — 41
Northern |19 |27 |28 |19 — 93
HOLLY SPRINGS — Ryan Blount 16, Craig McDaniel 11, Justin Wright 7, Jonathan Wooten 4, Shaquille Wilson 2, Henry Simpson 1.
NORTHERN — Ricky Council 16, Kentrell Barkley 15, Emmett Tiley 12, Jaquan Harris 10, Isaiah Townsend 10, Timothy Crutchfield 8, Dillon Leovic 6, Jamal Goodlow 6, Tahj Small 6, Timothy Bell 3, Jamaal Moore 2.
3-pt FGs — Holly Springs 4 (Blount 3, Wright 1); Northern 6 (Crutchfield 2, Council 2, Small 2).
Records — Holly Springs 10-15; Northern 25-1.