Ridgecroft holds off Bethel

Published 4:08 pm Saturday, January 16, 2010

AHOSKIE – It took a while for Ridgecroft School to shake off a tough challenge from Bethel Christian Academy here Thursday night.

The contest was tied after one quarter, but the home team was able to pull away in the third and fourth quarters, eventually grabbing a 71-57 victory.

The Rams, still playing without junior Austin Britton due to a high ankle sprain, were led by Braxton Sumner’s 11 points and 17 from Michael Byrum. Nathan Pierce added 10.

Shane Tripp paced the visiting Eagles with 28 while Kyle Freeman had 18.

With the Rams holding a slim lead heading into the second half, Ridgecroft opened the period with a quick 5-0 spurt. Pierce started the run with a hoop just 37 seconds into the half and was followed by an Ethan Phelps free throw and a Byrum score that quickly made it 43-35.

The two teams exchanged hoops over the next few moments until Scot Lowe and Byrum had back-to-back baskets that pushed the Ridgecroft lead to double figures at 54-41.

Bethel battled back when Tripp hit consecutive baskets and then was fouled taking an off-balanced three-point shot with .4 seconds remaining in the quarter. He calmly toed the line and hit all three to close Bethel within 54-48.

Freeman scored for the Eagles to stop the spurt as the fourth quarter began, but Sumner hit back-to-back shots for Ridgecroft that gave them a 58-50 lead with 7:11 to play.

After Tripp scored twice from the free throw line, Ridgecroft went on an 11-1 tear that sealed the victory. Sumner had the first six points of the run followed by a Pierce . Sumner scored again before Bobby Edwards added a free throw that made it 69-53.

Tripp scored again at the 3:12 mark of the fourth quarter to close Bethel back within 69-55, but neither team scored for nearly two minutes as the clock began to favor the Rams.

Over the final minute and a half, Freeman scored for the Eagles while Ben Newbern dropped in a bucket for Ridgecroft to establish the final score.

Early on Bethel was on the offensive, getting back-to-back hoops from Tripp and Freeman to take a 4-0 lead. Sumner and Pierce responded for the Rams, however, to deadlock the score. The score was tied again at six, eight and 10 before Bethel was able to get a 14-13 lead on a Freeman hoop with two minutes to play in the first period.

An exchange of buckets left the Rams down by one, but Sumner buried a triple with 11 seconds to play in the quarter. A David Simmons hoop for the Eagles, however, tied the score after one period of play.

The teams battled back-and-forth through much of the second quarter with both teams able to roll off only short runs. Ridgecroft pushed ahead by 10 near the one minute mark, but Bethel closed the quarter on 7-0 spurt that left them down by three (38-35) at halftime.

In addition to those in double figures, the Rams got eight from Lowe and seven from Phelps. Palmer added five for Bethel.