Lawrence upsets Ridgecroft

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 6, 2006

MERRY HILL – The offense was good, but defense preserved it.

Lawrence Academy gave an outstanding defensive effort over the last 22 seconds Tuesday night, including a key block by senior Judd Whitehead, as they held on to upset Ridgecroft School 62-60 in the Tarheel Independent Conference opener for both schools.

The battle between the rivals was one that saw many twists and turns. Lawrence jumped out to as much as a 16-point first half lead only to watch Ridgecroft battle back and tie thee score with 2:19 to play in the fourth quarter.

Lawrence led 57-51 with 4:40 left in the contest and the game stayed at that level until 2:57 to play when Matt Byrum scored and was fouled. Though he missed the free throw, Bryan Britton grabbed the rebound and stuck it back in. Britton scored again less than a minute later to deadlock the score at 57 with just over two minutes to play.

Lawrence got a three-pointer off the glass from Gray Harrell 16 seconds later to take the lead for good.

Ridgecroft had a couple of possessions, but couldn’t cut into the lead.

Michael Cseko added a free throw to extend the lead to four with 53 seconds to play, but Evans Jones buried a triple 10 seconds later to make it 61-60.

Cseko again hit 1-of-2 from the line with 24 seconds to play to establish the final.

Ridgecroft got a shot to tie the score with just over three seconds to play, but Whitehead swatted the attempt. The Rams took the ball inbounds again, but didn’t get off a shot.

“We had some harsh words at halftime,” Ridgecroft coach Tim Boone said. “We came out flat in the first half and I think everyone was looking for Chris Hill to step on the floor and no one stepped up.

“Once we realized he wasn’t going to play last night, we started to get going,” he added. “You don’t ever want to lose, but I wasn’t disappointed with our effort, especially in the second half.”

Hill, Ridgecroft’s leading scorer on the season, was not eligible to play Tuesday according to North Carolina Independent School Athletic Association rules. Hill was ejected with a Rocky Mount Prep player in their game Friday evening. The ejection, though controversial, kept Hill out for the next game.

The slow start for Ridgecroft was combined with an equally quick start for the Warriors.

With the game tied at 6-all six minutes into the first quarter, Lawrence rolled off nine unanswered points to close the period.

Alex Hodges got the scoring started with a bucket that was followed by a hoop from Harrell. Whitehead then hit a deuce and a three-pointer in the closing 43 seconds of the quarter to give the Warriors a 15-6 lead.

Still trailing by nine, Ridgecroft got a triple from John Alexander to trim the deficit to 16-10 with 6:47 to play in the second quarter.

The Warriors responded with back-to-back hoops from Hodges and Cseko.

Britton then sandwiched scores around a Hodges hoop for the Warriors to make it a 22-14 game.

Lawrence scored the next eight points, six of which came from Whitehead to take a 30-14 lead.

Alexander and Jones scored for the Rams to close out the first half, trimming their deficit to 30-17.

The Warriors got started hot again in the third quarter, getting consecutive hoops from Marshall Ellis, Whitehead and Cseko to make it 36-17.

Ridgecroft stormed back when a triple from Byrum sparked a 7-0 run. Britton had the other four points on the spurt, trimming the Lawrence lead to 36-24.

Lawrence used a 6-0 run midway through the third to go back ahead 48-31, but Ridgecroft again came back, scoring the final eight points of the quarter on hoops by Britton, Alexander and Josh Morris to trim the lead to 50-42 heading into the final period of play.

With Lawrence leading by eight (55-47), Ridgecroft got a score from Morris and free throws from Britton to close within 55-51.

Hodges’ score for Lawrence made it 57-51.

Lawrence (62): Judd Whitehead n 24, Alex Hodges n 15, Michael Cseko n 10, G. Harrell n 9, M. Ellis n 4, J. Spencer, B. Maxwell, J. Harrell, C. Oliver, MM. Walker, F. Baker

Ridgecroft (60): Bryan Britton n 29, Evans Jones n 13, M. Byrum n 7, J. Alexander n 6, J. Morris n 5, D. Baker, D. Lowe, M. Newbern, J. Taylor