Warriors top Rams

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 17, 2005

AHOSKIE – It’s true one of the best players in the Tarheel Independent Conference was on the bench here Friday night.

It’s also true that two other of the best in the league were on the floor.

While Ridgecroft senior Chris Hill missed his second consecutive contest after breaking his hand, teammate Bryan Britton and Lawrence Academy’s Judd Whitehead put on an offensive and defensive showcase.

The two combined for 54 points in a game that Lawrence won 70-57 after scoring the final 10 points of the contest.

Lawrence’s victory over the Rams gave them a season sweep after they also knocked off Ridgecroft in the first meeting of the year between the two schools.

Friday night’s win was eerily similar to the Lawrence win in the first game as the Warriors built a big lead only to see it evaporate and then held on for the victory.

“It was just like before,” Warrior coach Tommy Tripp said. “With 4:24 to play in the first half, we were up by 16, but they came back.”

Tripp said he felt the key to the win for Lawrence was some key defensive stops late in the fourth quarter and the fact the Rams again struggled with their outside shooting.

“We were 9-of-12 from the floor in the fourth quarter and that certainly helped us,” he said.

The Warriors saw Ridgecroft get within two points (55-53) with 3:49 to play. It was the closest the game had been since the opening tip.

Ridgecroft narrowed the gap thanks to a three-pointer from Josh Morris and back-to-back hoops from Britton.

Lawrence responded, however, when Whitehead scored and was fouled to push the Lawrence lead to 57-53.

After an Evans Jones free throw and two shots from Britton, the Rams were within one (57-56) with 2:42 to play.

Whitehead hit another bucket for the Warriors and Marshall Ellis hit 1-of-2 from the line to give Lawrence a 60-56 lead with 1:35 to play.

Over the course of those few minutes, Lawrence lost Michael Cseko to fouls and the Rams saw Matt Byrum and Morris suffer the same fate.

Ridgecroft then got a free throw from Britton to make it a one possession game again (60-57).

Lawrence, however, got a bucket from Gray Harrell and then hit 8-of-12 free throws once the Rams were forced to foul and preserved the win.

The win by the Warriors forced a log jam atop the TIC, with four teams in the league now having two losses. Lawrence Academy, Ridgecroft School and Terra Ceia Christian School are all 4-2 at the moment while Northeast Academy sits one-half game back at 3-2.

While Lawrence has swept Ridgecroft for the year and defeated TCCS in their first meeting, Northeast owns a win over the Warriors heading into Tuesday’s showdown between the two schools.

Ridgecroft will host Pungo Christian Academy Tuesday while Lawrence will try to avenge a first round loss to Northeast Academy.

Lawrence (70): Judd Whitehead n 26, Marshall Ellis n 12, Gray Harrell n 12, Alex Hodges n 10, M. Cseko n 9, C. Oliver – 1

Ridgecroft (57): Bryan Britton n 28, Evans Jones n 12, J. Morris n 7, M. Bryum n 5, D. Baker – 5