Rams remain unblemished

Published 3:59 pm Wednesday, November 30, 2011

AHOSKIE – Ramming on through.

Ridgecroft School’s boys basketball team, after escaping a close loss last weekend, kept things more under control Tuesday night and came away with a 65-54 win over Faith Christian of Rocky Mount for their fifth win of the year.

Julian Becker paced the Rams with 22 points while Michael Byrum added 17 and Austin Foster scored 11.

In a game that featured 14 lead changes and four ties Ridgecroft seized command of a close contest late thanks to the shutdown defense of Max Boone and the workmanlike rebounding, offensive and defensive, of Foster.

“We put our best defender on him,” said first-year Ridgecroft Head Coach Chris Hill, “played a zone and he (Boone) kept their best scorer within reach and denied him the ball, just as we asked him to do.

“As for Foster,” he added, “he’s a momentum-changer because he comes in and when he gets it in his head he wants to take it to the basket it’s hard to stop him. What I like about him is his aggression; but it’s a controlled aggression.”

Neither team was the aggressor in the early going of the first quarter.

Becker got the first four points for the Rams, but the Patriots’ leading scorer, Dustin Hendricks, helped shoot Faith Christian back into the game and a 6-6 tie.

Faith took an 8-6 lead, but Ridgecroft went on an 8-0 run that began with a three-pointer from Becker, another from Boone and a layup from Byrum. The Rams closed the quarter outscoring the Pats, 10-2 to lead it, 16-12 at the first break.

The second quarter belonged to Faith as Hendricks began to find his groove and scored 11 of his team-high 18 in that frame, beginning with a seven-point spurt that gave Faith it’s second lead, 19-18.

Foster was able to penetrate to put and keep the Rams in front until late in the quarter. It was then that Hill brought in Boone for defensive purposes and he did a good job of slowing down Hendricks.

Ridgecroft then began to rack up fouls and Faith grabbed the lead again, 26-24, before Byrum got a pair of steals and layups that put the Rams back on top. But Hendricks nailed two treys again and Faith led it, 31-28 at the break.

Faith opened the third quarter with a layup to take their biggest lead of the game at 33-28; before six straight Ridgecroft points put the home team back in front.  It went back and forth until the final two minutes of the quarter along with a pair of ties.

With under two minutes to go and the score tied, 36-36, Ridgecroft went on a seven-point run to take command for the last time. They closed out the quarter ahead, 45-38.

Even though their free-throw shooting was spotty in the fourth quarter, Ridgecroft never let Faith come closer than three points for the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, down the stretch, with Faith’s  frontline in foul trouble, Hill unleashed Foster, who rewarded his coach’s confidence with five straight points that made it 57-51.

The Rams made just 6-of-10 foul shots down the stretch, but they were enough to hold off a comeback and score the 11-point win.

“They took our shooter out of it and we had more turnovers than made shots down the stretch,” said Patriots coach Bill Denson “and a lot of that was their defense.

“We were bigger than them, ” he added, “but number-55 (Foster) killed us on the boards. I guess he wanted it more than we did.”

Faith gets a rematch in Rocky Mount a week from Monday. Meanwhile, the Rams, who cancelled their Friday game with Halifax Academy, will enjoy the feeling of being undefeated.