When his team needed him to deliver most, D.J. Shives did just that in the opening round of the Peoples Bank Holiday Clash.
Entering the fourth quarter, North Gaston was up by just one point over host West Lincoln.
That was before the Wildcats star senior went to work, scoring 12 points in the final stanza of a 49-32 victory Thursday night.
Prior to the last period, senior Ben Poole had done a solid job defending Shives, but like any great player, Shives loaded his team on his back and carried them to victory.
Through the first three quarters, the 6â€™3â€ guard had just five points before his scoring outburst to finish with a game-high 17 points.
â€œWe got some good point guard play out of Darius (Edwards) and it freed him (D.J.) up some and he can shoot it and that helped us out a lot,â€ Wildcats head coach Shawn Hubers said.
North Gaston (5-6, 0-2) went on a 12-0 run, 10 of them coming from Shives, to take a 37-24 lead.
After dropping four straight games, Hubers was proud of his team bouncing back to come away with the win in hostile territory.
â€œI couldnâ€™t be more proud. We played really hard. We were encouraging each other and I couldnâ€™t be more proud of their effort,â€ Hubers said. â€œWe stopped turning the ball over like we were doing early, were taking better care of the basketball and started knocking down some shots.â€
On the other side, West Lincoln head coach Chad Wright was pleased with his teamâ€™s defensive effort, but was left scratching his head about his squadâ€™s ineffectiveness on offense.
â€œThatâ€™s a common occurrence for us to play outstanding basketball and not be able to find the net. Eventually, like North Gaston did tonight, other teams are going to hit three or four in a row,â€ Wright said.
â€œA 12-point run in this game is like a 35-point run in any other contest.â€
With both teams playing tough, aggressive man-to-man defense in the first quarter, every shot contested resulted in just two field goals.
At the end of the period the Rebels held a baseball like 5-2 lead.
Two players reached double-figures for the Wildcats, with Shives scoring 17 and Octavious Robinson chipping in with 10.
Edwards added eight in the win.
Junior Matt Baxter led the Rebels (4-7, 0-2) with 10 points; Poole scored eight and Clay Rayfield added five off the bench.
North Gaston 2 11 12 24 -49
West Lincoln 5 9 10 8 -32
NORTH GASTON: D.J. Shives 17, Octavious Robinson 10, Edwards 8, Kennedy 4, Dennis 2, Goodman 2, Johnson 2, Saylors 2, Shanks 1.
WEST LINCOLN: Matt Baxter 10, Poole 8, Rayfield 5, Woodie 3, Gee 3, Armstrong 2, Watts 1.
by John Mark Brooks