Rams ‘delay’ Hobgood

Published 8:52 am Friday, January 14, 2011

By Mike Williams


HOBGOOD – The boys contest here Wednesday was a chess match between coach Brandon Hodges of Ridgecroft and longtime Hobgood mentor Joe McDowell, with the Rams holding the decisive edge by a 31-23 count.

The boys contest started out innocently enough, with the teams trading free throws and Ridgecroft’s Michael Byrum throwing down a three-pointer from the left side.

But here’s where the scenario changes – with possession of the basketball and a 5-1 lead, Hodges elected to pull the ball out in a delay game hoping to force McDowell to abandon his various zone defenses.

The Raiders,  playing zone to counter the height advantage of the Ram frontline of 6’-4” Nathan Pearce and 6’-5”ers  Austin Britton and Ryan Beggs, were content to lay back in their defense, so for better than three minutes Britton stood at midcourt, ball on his hip.

Finally, with one minute remaining the Rams went into their offense , only to turn the ball over. Hobgood’s Sha’he Morning’s two free throws late in period cut the lead to 5-3 at the end of the quarter.

The second stanza saw more of the same tactics with Ridgecroft moving the ball on offense, but making little attempt to attack the basket

Britton hit an early free throw and Byrum scored on a baseline jumper to increase the lead to 8-3, but the Raiders countered with a pair of free throws each by Morning and Dusty Knox to locker room at the half trailing 8-7 without the benefit of a first half field goal.

Austin Britton canned a pair of charity tosses to open the third quarter before Hobgood got their first field goal of the contest on an inside basket by Knox at the 5:41 mark. Beggs followed up on a missed Nathan Pearce shot for a basket and Knox canned three free throws down the stretch with the Rams continuing to play the delay game.

Britton’s bucket inside and a buzzer beating NBA trey by Landon Larabee extended the Ram lead to 18-12 after three quarters of play.

In the final period, Ridgecroft abandoned their deliberate style of play.

Britton canned a free throw, but Hobgood’s Dusty Knox knocked in back-to-back baskets inside to cut the margin to 19-17.

Larrabee hit a pair of free throws for the Rams and Britton added a field goal for a 23-17 Ram advantage, but Morning countered with a three ball and Hobgood was down  three at 23-20 with 1:51 to play.

Britton then took the game into his hands, rebounding a missed Max Boone free throw for a tally and adding another bucket and pair of free throws to push the lead to 29-20 with 49 seconds to play.

Hobgood was able to convert three free throws, but it was not enough as Larrabee hit a pair of charity tosses in the waning seconds to seal the win.

Britton led all scorers in the contest as he secured a double-double –16 points and 10 rebounds. Beggs added six rebounds to the cause.

Hobgood, which had but four field goals in the game, was led by Morning’s 10 and nine by Knox. Both Knox and Michael Farmer had six rebounds each for Hobgood.