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Larabee pushes LA lads

AHOSKIE – Muscle.

And most of it coming from one of the smallest guys on the team.

Lawrence Academy guard Trace Larabee flexed aplenty Tuesday night en route to a 29-point, four assist, three steal performance as the Warriors remained unbeaten in the Tarheel Independent Conference with a perfect 6-0 mark and 12-6 overall following their 65-43 win over Ridgecroft School.

Meanwhile, the home-standing Rams suffered only their second loss in league play as they fell to 5-2 and evened their overall record to 6-6.

Travis Whitehead also scored in double-figures for the Warriors with 21 points while Willie Bass collected 10 rebounds to go with his six points.

Michael Byrum paced Ridgecroft with 17 points while teammate, Austin Britton, added 16, with 15 of those coming in the first half.

“If I yell it’s to try to get intensity,” said Warriors coach Jon Powell,  “and I didn’t yell much because I thought we played with pretty good intensity in the first half.

“It wasn’t perfect,” he added. “but we came out in the second half and played with more intensity and determination and we did a good job of stopping them on the offensive end and that keyed our whole second half – stopping them on the offensive end.”

The game began with each team a little tight before the huge crowd and the lead changed hands seven times in the first quarter.

With Ridgecroft ahead by a point, 8-7, after a Byrum putback, first Cade and then Trace Larabee hit back-to-back three’s to give the Warriors a five-point edge after the first eight minutes, 13-8.

It was 15-10 in the second quarter when Byrum hit a pair of free throws and then got a steal and layup to get Ridgecroft back within one at 15-14.

The Rams still trailed by one a minute later when Byrum again came through, this time with a long-range three-pointer followed by a jump shot to give Ridgecroft a 23-21 lead.

It was Rams’ last lead of the night, though they hung around until halftime.

Larabee put Lawrence back in front with a three-pointer and, after a tough Whitehead layup in the paint, the Warriors were back up by five.

A pair of Byrum buckets moved Ridgecroft back within one, except  by now the Rams were beginning to rack up fouls in the low post.

The teams exchanged baskets and when the 40-point effort by both teams was over, Lawrence still clung to a one-point lead at half-time, 31-30.

The Warriors opened the third quarter with Bass scoring on a three-point play.  Lawrence then switched to a man-to-man defense that totally upset the rhythm for the Rams, who only scored seven points in the quarter.

Offensively, Larabee and Whitehead enjoyed picking the pockets of the home team and the steals and layups helped key a 13-3 run.

Ridgecroft was hobbled in the front-court because of the foul trouble and missing inside player, Nathan Pearce, who sat out the game with an injury.  That, foul trouble, and Lawrence establishing the tempo led to a 15-point Warrior lead after three, 52-37.

In the fourth quarter, the Warriors upped the lead to as many as 26 points, 65-39, thanks to a 13-2 explosion highlighted by more high-powered offense from Larabee and Whitehead.

Overall, Lawrence outscored the Rams 34-13 for the half.

“We thought we could go with our speed over size with Nathan out,” said Ridgecroft coach Brandon Hodges, “but we just didn’t have an answer for Trace.

“When he started hitting those shots in the second half,” he added, “it kind of took us out of our game.  We just weren’t prepared for him to be shooting like he did; and the foul trouble made us play tentative.”

Lawrence’s back on the road for the third of four games away from Merry Hill on Friday night against Terra Ceia Christian while Ridgecroft will play Thursday in Askewville at Bethel Christian.