Rams win title
AHOSKIE – The Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament was established to honor the former Ridgecroft player who lost his life in a navy helicopter accident earlier this year.
The Ridgecroft men’s team, for whom Brantley wore number 24 honored Brantley’s memory by winning the tournament with a 81-74 victory over Bethel Christian Academy Friday night.
&uot;It was a great tribute to a great young man,&uot; said Rams head coach Tim Boone.
&uot;I told my players before the game that this was a kid that played for Ridgecroft so you need to honor him with a win.
&uot;He made the ultimate sacrifice and I told the players they needed to show their appreciation with a win.
Nick represented Ridgecroft as a good student and a good American.&uot;
Bethel came close to upsetting the Rams.
Entering the fourth quarter Ridgecroft held a two-point advantage but back-to-back baskets from Larry Caldwell pulled Bethel ahead.
Bryan Britton hit two shots from the lane and Chris Hill added another to regain the Ridgecroft lead with just under six minutes remaining.
A trey from Josh Freeman cut the Rams lead to one.
The teams traded buckets as Bethel tried to retake the lead, but the Rams scored six straight points, a deficit Bethel couldn’t overcome as they fell to the Rams, 81-74.
Bethel came out strong in the first, taking an early 2-0 lead after a Caldwell basket.
Matt Byrum scored a Rams bucket to tie the score, but Bethel scored three straight field goals to take a 6-2 lead.
Bethel built an eight-point lead (18-10) but a Byrum basket and Josh Morris trey cut the Eagles lead to three.
The teams traded shots as the Eagles held on to a three-point advantage (22-19) going into the second quarter.
The Rams started the second quarter sluggish and Bethel took advantage, beating the Rams defense back down the court for seven quick points.
After a Ridgecroft timeout the Rams began chipping at the Bethel lead.
Britton sank two foul shots with just over five minutes remaining in the quarter to give the Rams their first lead of the game (32-31).
Following a Morris foul shot, the Rams were issued a technical foul.
Caldwell sank both free throws to tie the score at 33-all.
Freeman scored the go-ahead jumper but Bethel didn’t hold the lead for long.
Hill got hot from beyond the arc, sinking three three-pointers as the Rams outscored Bethel 17-7 over the final four minutes of the first half.
Trailing 50-42 at the start of the third Bethel continued to give the Rams a run for their money.
Ridgecroft led by as many as 12 but each time the Eagles fought back.
Bethel scored the final 10 points of the third quarter to pull within two, 61-61, heading into the fourth.
&uot;I think they might have been a little surprised by us,&uot; said Bethel head coach Joe Mizelle.
&uot;Number 20 (Hill) was just a little much for us.
Having to put two players on him in the second half and then getting in foul trouble hurt our chances.&uot;
Boone recognized the talent Bethel put on the floor and the strong coaching behind it.
&uot;They get 110% out of every kid they’ve got on the floor.
I was very impressed with the whole team.
They fought us tooth and nail the entire game.
They are extremely well coached.
Britton led the Rams with 30 points followed by Hill with 29.
&uot;Bryan really stepped up and controlled the offensive boards,&uot; Boone said.
Caldwell and Freeman led Bethel with 23 points apiece as the Eagles took home second place.
Caldwell and Freeman were named to the All Tournament team.
Josh Morris was also named to the All Tournament team while teammate Hill took home MVP honors.
Rams (81): Bryan Britton – 30, Chris Hill – 29, J. Morris – 9, M. Byrum – 4, E. Jones – 4, J. Alexander – 3, D. Lowe – 4
Bethel (74): Josh Freeman – 23, Larry Caldwell – 23, Stephen Miller – 19, F. Feher – 5, J. Caldwell – 3, J. Hoggard – 1