The North Lincoln Knights had a dream start against the Maiden Blue Devils Tuesday night nailing 9-of-10 shots in the first quarter.
Unfortunately, Maiden was not too shabby either, as 6â€™4â€ forward Adam Lawing gave fans an idea of what to expect the rest of the game, scoring 10 points to allow the visiting Blue Devils a one-point deficit despite Northâ€™s hot start.
What was supposed to be a battle for supremacy in the Southern Foothills 1A, turned into Lawingâ€™s night. The lanky forward made runners, three-pointers, free throws, lay ups, bank shots and dunks on his way to a game-high 32 points in a 78-69 win.
Lawing, who scored a career-high against Bessemer City the game previous to his match-up with the Knights with 37, also threw in a career milestone just for good measure.
With 5:16 in the second quarter, he drained a jumper that gave him 1,000 career points. The feat came as a somewhat of a surprise.
â€œIâ€™ve been working for it. I knew it was coming up pretty soon, but coach did not tell me because he knew it would get in my head. Itâ€™s pretty exciting though,â€ Lawing said.
The match-up between the 5-0 Blue Devils and 4-1 Knights lived up to its billing in the first half. With 11 lead changes and five ties, the crowd received plenty of twists and turns in the first two quarters.
Trishtan Johnson, the Knightsâ€™ leading scorer, got off to a quick start scoring seven points in the first quarter. Alex Loftin had nine in the first quarter, including one three-pointer.
Maidenâ€™s guard Vantrel England made a lay up with two seconds left in the first half. That momentum carried into the second stanza of play.
A John Harvey free throw put the finishing touch on a 6-0 run with 30 seconds remaining in the third, putting the visitors up 59-50.
While North Lincoln showed they are one of the elite teams in the SF 1A; Maiden showed why its undefeated at 6-0. The inside-out combination of center Anthony Bourne and Lawing proved to be too much for Knights. The duo combined to score 24 of Maidenâ€™s 39 second-half points.
Lawing felt like the game was a tale of two halves.
â€œThey were hitting everything to start the game. Then, we stepped up our D (defense) and played as a team,â€ he said.
â€œI didnâ€™t think they could stop me, so I just took it to the rack,â€ he added.
Northâ€™s head coach David Johnson admitted his teamâ€™s lack of size hurt them at times.
â€œHeâ€™s (Lawing) a good ball player. We knew he was a good player coming in, but he just outplayed us,â€ he said.
A Peyton Brady jumper , with 6:15 left in the fourth, whittled the lead to six at 62-56, but itâ€™s the closest the Knights would get the rest of the contest.
North Lincoln had four players in double figures. Loftin and Lesharion Johnson led the team with 14 poitns, while Trishtan Johnson had a relatively quiet 13. David Ward, in spot duty, added 11 points. Brady chipped in with eight.
â€œWe played well in the first half. Our intensity was up, our confidence was up, but I told them Maiden was a tougher team. We had to step it up to the next level and I think we were almost there, but by halftime we just didnâ€™t have the intensity we had in the first half,â€ Johnson said.
With the win, Maiden raises its record to 12-5 overall, 6-0 in the SF 1A. North Lincoln falls to 7-11, 4-2.
The Knights will visit Ty Carter and his Bessemer City Yellow Jackets on Friday. Carter recently broke the state record for three-pointers made, draining 14 of them in a 44-point scoring effort against Polk County.
â€œWeâ€™re going to try to keep him to 25 points. Lesharion and Trishtan will guard him,â€ Johnson said.
Maiden 21 18 20 19-78
North Lincoln 22 16 16 15-69
BLUE DEVILS: Zack Welch 7, John Harvey 1, Daniel Kennedy 2, Vantrel England 10, Adam Lawing 34, Jordan Goodson 3, Anthony Bourne 21.
KNIGHTS: Lesharion Johnson 14, Trishtan Johnson 13, Kenny Bethea 5, Alex Loftin 14, David Ward 11, Peyton Brady 8, Justin Thompson 1, Kyle Baker 3.
The Lady Knights snapped a three-game losing streak beating the Blue Devils 52-40.
Freshman Kayla Alexander and Alyssa Lowe combined for 40, as Alexander led the Knights with 21.
The home team jumped out to 32-19 halftime lead and rode that momentum the rest of the way.
Northâ€™s head coach Mark Lackey believes when Lowe and Alexander are on; his team is difficult to stop.
â€œThey were both on. They were our go-to kids tonight. When theyâ€™re both scoring; it opens up a lot of things for us. Our assists go up and our total game goes up,â€ he said.
The Knights were led on the boards by Lindsey Smith, who is averaging a near double-double with nine points and eight rebounds per game. She helped North Lincoln out-rebound Maiden 35-27 doing her part reeling in 11 for the contest.
Thatâ€™s a tell-tale sign for us, if we out-rebound an opponent; weâ€™re going to be in the basketball game,â€ Lackey said.
The win raises the Lady Knightsâ€™ record to 8-10 overall and 3-3 in the SF 1A as they vie for a state playoff berth.
They face the Yellow Jackets on Friday, who have won only one game all season.
â€œIt was a huge win. This helps us confidence-wise; itâ€™s tremendous for us. We lost to them last year twice. We were somewhat wary of their talent because theyâ€™re a good ball club. It helps us a lot in the conference and itâ€™ll go a long way to help us as far as our playoff berth,â€ Lackey said.
Maiden 7 12 5 16-40
North Lincoln 14 18 9 11-52
BLUE DEVILS: Ramseur 17, McCorkle 2, Pruitt 2, Canipe 9, Herman 3, England 5, McCall 2.
KNIGHTS: Alyssa Lowe 19, Caroline Farris 2, Kayla Alexander 21, Lindsey Smith 2, Sara McCall 8.
by John Mark Brooks