Hot-shooting Northern rockets past Person in PAC-6 opener
Northern guard Timothy Crutchfield was a ball-handling playmaker most of the night, but at the 4:57 mark of the second period Tuesday he found himself open in the corner and drained a 3-pointer.
Ten seconds later Person’s Marquis Torain found himself in the same situation, but his 3-point shot more closely resembled a weather balloon than a laser-guided shot. His air ball fell well short of the net.
In microcosm, that was the tale of the whole game, the PAC-6 4-A opener for both teams.
With four players in double digits, Northern blew past the Rockets 83-48 on superior passing, shot selection, second-chance scoring and merciless defense that accounted for 20 steals and a rhythm-busting pressure that kept the Rockets off their launching pad most of the night.
“We kinda came out fired up tonight. I hope we can play that way the rest of the year. We need to play that way,” said Northern coach Ronnie Russell.
“I thought we got into the flow of the game a lot quicker. We executed well on offense and defense. That kind of got us started a little quicker,” Russell said.
Northern’s dominating 6-foot-5 senior guard Ricky Council owned much of the game. He banged in 23 points to lead all scorers. That included a pair of 3-pointers in the third period.
Council displayed tremendous athleticism with a pair of soaring slam-dunks. One came with just under a minute to play in the first half when he stole the ball at the Person end and raced all the way to the other end of the court to stuff it home. The other was a wham-jam fast break at the 6:25 mark of the third period.
With his team up 6-4, Council single-handedly pushed the Knights into a 15-6 scoring cushion to open the first period, scoring 7 unanswered points for Northern in one run and getting the next basket after a Person bucket interrupted his string. His scoring barrage took just a minute and 49 seconds
“They did a good job of finding him tonight. He’s capable of putting up a lot of points,” Russell said. “I’ve got a lot of guys who can. I thought we shot the ball real well tonight.”
With an impressive 22 assists, there were lots of scoring opportunities.
“They moved the ball real well and that was a plus for us,” Russell said.
The Knights’ Kentrell Barkley, a 6-foot-5 junior forward, knocked down 14. He stole the ball and got a slam-dunk at 6:44 of the fourth period. He showed excellent presence following immediately behind Council to jump up and tap in his teammate’s missed shot at 7:01 of the third period as though it were a planned play.
Scoring 10 each for Northern were 6-foot-2 sophomore guard Emmett Tilley and Crutchfield.
Torain pumped in 19 points including a slam-dunk at 2:01 of the final period to lead the Rockets. Rashi Richmond tossed in 11.
Though they were outplayed, the Rockets did come up with some court gems of their own, including a number of stirring blocked shots.
Person’s Ebon Jay had the most dramatic block, soaring high above Council and swatting the ball across the gym floor at 3:53 of the second period. Jeff Hamlette also blocked a Council shot at 5:06 of the fourth period, and Antwon Smith knocked away a Crutchfield shot at 4:28 of the third period.
Northern 83, Person 48
Person 9 7 14 18 — 48
Northern 21 16 26 20 — 83
PERSON — Marquis Torain 19, Rashi Richmond 11, Jeff Hamlette 7, Jeremy Smith 6, Ebon Jay 2, Antwon Smith 2, Tre Tapp 1.
NORTHERN — Ricky Council 23, Kentrell Barkley 14, Emmett Tilley 10, T.J. Crutchfield 10, Jamal Goodlow 9, Tahj Small 7, T.J. Bell 4, Jaquan Harris 2, Avion Jordan 2, Dillon Leovic 2.
Records—Person 9-4, 0-1 PAC-6 4-A; Northern 12-1, 1-0 PAC-6.
Northern 53, Person 20
Person 4 5 10 1 — 20
Northern 8 18 10 17 — 53
PERSON — Tiana Hatchett 9, Christina Harris 5, Cyanna Lester 3, Soren Williams 2, Jessica Lassiter 1.
NORTHERN — Rhianna Council 20, Madison Taylor 10, Andrea Graham 8, Aquria McIntyre 5, Megan Pleasants 3, Remy Simmons 3, Jea Quaisha Chavis 2, Kolby Snipes 2.
Records — Person 7-6, 0-1 PAC-6 4-A; Northern 7-5, 1-0 PAC-6.