Ridgecroft runs by Oakwood

Published 11:11 am Sunday, November 22, 2009

AHOSKIE – It was the semifinal the crowd was buzzing about.

Host Ridgecroft School sent their varsity boys out against visiting Oakwood in the semifinals of the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament at Revelle Gymtorium here Wednesday night.

The game lived up to its billing with both teams racing up and down the floor and the home-standing Rams coming away with a thrilling 77-58 victory earning them a spot in the finals last night (Friday).

First year skipper Brandon Hodges said he made sure his team knew how important the tournament was not only personally, because his wife is Brantley’s cousin, but to the school.

“It’s very, very special to come into this tournament honoring Nick and be able to get my first varsity win,” Hodges said. “As important as this tournament is to Anna’s family and Nick’s parents, it just makes it very special.

“I told the boys in the locker room that we wanted to show up and do the right things the right way,” he said. “We want to respect the tournament and I think we did that.”

The Rams wasted little time getting ahead with Ethan Phelps scoring just 19 seconds into the contest. Braxton Sumner followed suit 30 seconds later to give Ridgecroft a 4-0 lead.

Oakwood got a bucket from Xavier Griffin, but Sumner responded with a three-pointer. Griffin scored again to cut it to 7-4, but the Rams rolled off the next eight points in a row. Austin Britton started the spurt and Sumner ended it with both players scoring in between as Ridgecroft built a 15-4 lead.

The Rams took an 18-5 lead into the second quarter when Sumner, who led the Rams with 26 points, hit a triple at the buzzer.

Sumner started the second quarter with another three-pointer and Michael Byrum added a deuce to make it 23-5.

The Eagles began their comeback with a hoop each from Alex Moore and Jay Demery, but Ridgecroft maintained a 19-point lead at the intermission.

Ridgecroft got out of the gate quickly in the third quarter when Britton and Byrum hit back-to-back hoops in the opening minute.

Oakwood finally got their offense going in the late part of the period as Griffin and Demery led the Eagles on a 6-3 spurt that closed the gap to 55-30.

The Eagles also scored the final five points of the period as they closed to within 57-36 heading into the final period.

The Eagles got as close as 17 in the final period after Griffin punctuated a 6-2 run with a bucket with just over five minutes to play, but Ridgecroft never let them get back in the game.

“Coach (Danny) Lafferty and I told them to run our offense and do what we do and we’ll be fine,” Hodges said. “When you come out and play against a team that is that good and play as well as we did at times, I am pleased.”

The Rams (1-0) advanced to the finals of the tournament last night (Friday).