Warriors defeat Rams

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 7, 2004

MERRY HILL – When you can make a shot from 10 feet from behind midcourt, you’ve just got to feel that it’s going to be your night.

Thomas Ward did exactly that – swishing the net with his buzzer-beating bomb to end the first quarter and Lawrence Academy’s senior center went on to pour in a game-high 30 points to lead the Warriors over Ridgecroft School, 66-54, here Tuesday night in a Tarheel Independent Conference varsity boys basketball game.

&uot;The one thing you can say about Thomas is that he comes to play each and every night,&uot; said Lawrence skipper Justis Bobbitt who watched his club improve to 6-4 overall and 3-1 in league play. &uot;We might have one player score in double figures one night and another the next night, but with Thomas, it’s every night.&uot;

Ward also impressed the losing coach.

&uot;The kid is everywhere – hitting the soft shot inside and stepping out to bury a three,&uot; noted Ridgecroft’s Dave Rowzie. &uot;What really turned this game around is that the Ward kid stepped out and defended our three-point shooters very well there to start the second half. His defense threw us off rhythm.&uot;

With the Warriors trailing by five (34-29) at halftime, Ward definitely picked it up a notch in the third quarter by dominating both ends of the court – scoring 12 points on offense and yanking down six of his game-high 13 rebounds on defense. By the time the period was over, the Warriors owned a 50-41 lead and never looked back.

Lawrence kept pouring it on to open the fourth period where back-to-back lay-ups by Gabe White off transition baskets followed by an Andrew Barber deuce and a Ward trifecta aided the Warriors in building their largest lead at 59-41 with 5:47 left in the contest.

Ridgecroft, led by a three-point play from Jason Hill and a hoop each by Chris Hill and Hill Homewood, did battle back to within 10 (59-49) with 3:55 left, but the Warriors weren’t about to let this one slip away as back-to-back baskets by Ward and Chad Simmons fueled a late offensive spurt and deflated any hopes of a Ridgecroft rally.

However, the Rams were able to rally in the first quarter where, trailing 9-2, Ridgecroft caught fire behind the hot hand of Josh Brittenham (a pair of early treys) and eventually tied the game at 17-17 thanks to Chris Hill’s old-fashioned three-point play with 57 seconds left in the period.

After Ward’s deuce and long-range shot staked the Warriors to a 22-17 lead by the end of the period, the Rams rallied again – this time riding the strength of three-pointers from Brittenham, Jason Courtright and C. Hill plus a pair of Mac Griffin hoops to seize a 34-29 halftime lead.

All totaled, the Rams sizzled from the field in the first half, hitting 13-of-20 shots, including a 5-of-7 touch from behind the arc. However, Lawrence’s defense took the wind out of Ridgecroft’s sails over the final two periods where the Rams shot a dismal 7-of-27 from the field (1-of-7 from three-point range).

(R-C News-Herald News Editor Cal Bryant contributed to this story.)

Lawrence Academy (66)

Thomas Ward – 30, Andrew Barber – 10, Chad Simmons – 10, White – 9, E. Hughes – 5, W. Hughes – 2.

FG: 26-of-68 (3-pointers: 6-of-17). FT: 8-of-21. Rebounds: 40 (Ward – 13, White – 6, E. Hughes – 5). Turnovers: 5.

Ridgecroft School (54)

Chris Hill – 19, Brittenham – 9, Courtright – 8, Griffin – 5, J. Hill – 5, Mizelle – 5, H. Homewood – 2, S. Homewood – 1.

FG: 20-of-47 (3-pointers: 6-of-16). FT: 8-of-14. Rebounds: 27 (Griffin – 5, C. Hill – 5, Mizelle – 5). Turnovers: 16.