Fourth quarter surge lifts Lawrence

Published 10:14 pm Friday, January 29, 2010

MERRY HILL – The fourth quarter made all the difference.

Ridgecroft School and Lawrence Academy were tied in a 38-all deadlock after three quarters, but it was the home-standing Warriors who rolled in the fourth quarter, taking a 54-43 decision in Daniels Gymnasium here Tuesday night.

Shabazz Atkins hit the first hoop of the fourth quarter, but Michael Byrum answered the score for the Rams to leave the game deadlocked at 40-all.

Senior Chad Whitehead then put Lawrence up for good when he scored with 7:10 to play in the fourth quarter. Whitehead was followed by an Atkins hoop.

Ridgecroft’s Austin Britton, making his first appearance in more than two weeks with an ankle injury, cut the lead to two (44-42) with 5:10 to play.

The Warriors dominated the rest of the contest, however, with Trace Larabee hitting back-to-back triples over a 55-second span that pushed Lawrence to a 50-42 lead.

Ethan Phelps hit 1-of-2 from the line for the Rams moments later, but Ridgecroft didn’t score again.

Evan Holton had the last hoop of the game with 2:12 remaining as the Warriors surged ahead 52-43.

The Warriors missed the front end of a pair of 1-plus-1 opportunities, but Ridgecroft couldn’t capitalize and the Warriors claimed second place in the Tarheel Independent Conference with the win.

The victory was the second for Lawrence over Ridgecroft as the Warriors also won the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament in November. In a twist, Assistant Coach Michael Ratzlaff actually led the Warriors to both victories in the absence of Head Coach Jon Powell. Powell was sick Tuesday night.

Atkins led the Warriors with 21 points while Larabee chipped in 17. Whitehead had eight for Lawrence.

Byrum paced Ridgecroft with 11 points while Braxton Sumner added nine. Britton and Nathan Pierce added eight each.

Lawrence got off to a quick 7-2 start thanks to a pressure defense that forced Ridgecroft turnovers. Atkins scored all seven for the Warriors answered only by a Pierce hoop

Ridgecroft turned the tables, however and scored four straight and forcing the Warriors to take a timeout to regroup.

Coming out of the timeout, Lawrence rolled off five straight to surge ahead 12-6, but Ridgecroft again came back as Sumner sandwiched a pair of triples around an Atkins three-pointer to close the gap to 15-12. Lawrence led 17-14 after one quarter.

Byrum buried a three-pointer to open the second quarter as the Rams tied the game at 17-all. The score was tied at 19 and 22 after that and neither team built more than a two-point edge with Ridgecroft leading 27-26 at the intermission.

Whitehead and Cade Larabee opened the third period with back-to-back hoops, but Pierce and Phelps answered by doing the same for the Rams.

In all, the lead changed hands five times in the third quarter before a Britton free throw tied it at 38-all at the end of the period.

Ridgecroft will host Oakwood School tonight (Thursday) in a non-conference outing while the Warriors will host Terra Ceia Christian Friday evening.