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NEA earns first finals

AHOSKIE – Northeast Academy earned their first varsity boy’s final in the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament here Wednesday night.

The Eagles topped host Ridgecroft School 56-49 to earn their way into the championship where they will face defending tournament champion Lawrence Academy.

The Eagles dominated two and a half period of play before Ridgecroft rallied to get as close as three with 50 seconds to play.

Northeast led 42-27 late in the third quarter when the Rams rolled off nine unanswered points. Ethan Phelps started the spurt with a hoop that was followed by five points from Austin Britton (the game’s leading scorer with 26 points) and a hoop by Patrick Dilday.

The Rams kept up the pressure as Dilday opened the fourth period with a triple that made it 42-39.

Northeast responded with a 6-1 run over the next few minutes to push their lead back to eight (50-42). Jud Smith had four of his eight points during that span and Brandon Futrell added a bucket.

Ridgecroft rallied back with Britton hitting from the floor and Phelps converting a pair from the free throw line to make it 50-46 with 1:27 to play

Smith put the Eagles up by six, but Braxton Sumner buried a three-pointer to make it 52-49 with just 50 ticks left on the clock.

Northeast sealed the victory when Futrell hit 1-of-2 from the line and then Hunter Deloatch, who led the Eagles with 15 points, had a basket and a free throw with eight seconds left to secure the 56-49 win.

After a tight battle over the opening few minutes, Northeast opened up a nine-point lead by the end of the first quarter. The Eagles went on a 10-1 run thanks to a pair of hoops from Deloatch and a bucket from Jeremy Parker to lead 17-8 after one quarter.

Deloatch scored first in the second quarter, but Britton responded with back-to-back baskets to get Ridgecroft within 19-13.

Northeast, however, closed out the second quarter on a 6-0 tear thanks to a basket each from Futrell, Parker and James Pope. They led 27-16 at the intermission.

Northeast pushed their advantage to as much as 16 (37-21) with 2:50 to play in the third quarter. That set the stage for Ridgecroft’s comeback which came up short.

Deloatch (15) and Parker (10) led the Northeast offense while Futrell added nine and Smith and Jay Baugham scored eight each. Pope added four and Cody Fleetwood contributed two.

Britton was the only Ram in double digits. He was followed by Sumner and Dilday with seven points each and Phelps with six. Nathan Pearce chipped in two points while Michael Byrum had one.