North Lincoln beat Highland Tech 64-55 Tuesday night.
Playing in their fourth game without leading scorer senior Kenny Bethea, Adrian Arruza led a balanced-scoring effort with 19 points, as he nailed four three-pointers.
â€œWith all the issues, weâ€™ve run into, weâ€™ve really been working on team work. We finally showed it this game and the points reflected that,â€ Knights head coach David Johnson said.
Four Knights (2-7, 1-1) turned in double-figure performances as David Ward, Kyle Baker and Alex Loftin each finished with 11.
Entering the fourth quarter, deadlocked at 42, North used a patient approach to outscore the Rams 22-13 for just their second win of the season.
â€œMotivation-wise, itâ€™s wonderful for our boys. To finally be able to pull one out, after several close games, itâ€™s real good for our boys,â€ Johnson said.
After going to the third round a season ago, the Knights took a serious blow when starters Trishtan Johnson and Payton Brady decided to transfer.
When Bethea hurt his ankle, it forced the team into a different style of play, as they went from being a club that liked to run to a ball-movement team.
â€œIt changed the way we had to play ball. Weâ€™re a well-rounded team and I think itâ€™s made us a better team having to deal with all those issues,â€ Johnson, ever-the-optimist said.
Joe Stromon, a six-foot guard, scored a game-high 25 points, while connecting on five three-point attempts. He had 17 at halftime.
While the victory was certainly good for team morale, good things could be on the horizon as Bethea is expected to return to the court for the Peoples Bank Clash to be held Dec. 29 and 30 at Lincolnton High School.
â€œThe boys are excited. We know itâ€™s going to be a tough game, because Lincolnton always comes prepared to play, but we look forward to the challenge,â€ Johnson said.
The emergence of 6 foot five inch center David Ward has opened things up from the perimeter as the Knights made eight threes Tuesday, led by Arruza (four) and Baker (three).
Talented sophomore Kayla Alexander scored 16 points for the Lady Knights in Tuesdayâ€™s victory. Chris Dean / LTN Photo
by John Mark Brooks