Northern runs past Riverside with late rally

Feb. 17, 2014 @ 10:07 PM

Northern needed a fourth-quarter rally and got it at the right time as the Knights finished out their regular season with a 71-62 win over Riverside.

The Pirates (12-12, 4-6 PAC-6) did just about all they could to spoil Northern’s senior night, but Ricky Council II and Jaquan Harris each came through with 16 points to lead the Knights to victory.

“It means a lot to win this game and finish the regular season strong,” Council said. “It was an emotional game, being senior night and playing our rivals. We started off slow, but we saw the scoreboard and finally woke up. We finally started playing hard on defense.”

Northern (22-2, 9-1 PAC-6) already wrapped up the conference regular season title, its first since the 1989-90 season, with its win at Jordan last Tuesday. The Knights played sluggishly through three quarters as they tried to shake off the effects of only one practice since then.

Northern coach Ronnie Russell said his team never got into the flow of the game until the fourth quarter.

“Part of it was us and part of it was them,” Russell said. “We just never got into the flow of the game. We needed this win to go into the tournament on a positive note.”

Riverside coach Brian Strickland said his team had a lot to play for — a possible third-place finish in the standings and a good position heading into the PAC-6 tournament at Person beginning today.

“We held strong through three quarters,” Strickland said. “But they’re a good team and they won the regular season for a reason. We knew they would make a run on us, and they got us in the fourth.”

The Pirates held a 14-10 lead after the first period and a narrow 28-26 advantage at halftime. Riverside managed to lead 46-43 at the end of the third period.

But during the huddle leading into the fourth period, Russell gave his team an earful and the message got through. The Knights outscored Riverside 28-16 in the final eight minutes.

Junior T.J. Crutchfield hit a driving shot in the lane to tie it at 47-47 for the Knights, and then he finally gave Northern the lead with a 3-pointer on the next trip up the court.

Riverside got back to within a point at 52-51 on a basket by Joey Cabrera, who led the Pirates with 21 points. But Crutchfield answered for Northern with a 3 and the Knights went on to extend their lead and hold on for the win.

Northern’s next game will be Thursday at 6 p.m. in the PAC-6 semifinals at Person.

In the girls’ game, Riverside cruised to a 42-27 win thanks to eight points apiece from Zaria Rogers, Yakima Clifton, Atlanta Woodall and Moné Jones.