Eagles win Bertie Co. battle

Published 2:07 pm Monday, December 19, 2011

ASKEWVILLE – They may’ve been in green, but they were no Grinch.

After squeaking out a win back in November in the Lt. Nick Brantley Scholarship Tournament, the Lawrence Academy Warriors thought they could steal another one from Bethel Assembly Christian Academy Friday night.

Instead the Eagles had the heart that was two-sizes too big, and they won this ‘Battle of Bertie County,’ 69-52, for their eighth win of the year.

The one-two punch of Kyle Freeman and Shane Tripp provided the offensive spark for Bethel with 43 points between them – 23 for Freeman and 20 for Tripp.

Nathaniel Holton led Lawrence’s scoring with 11.

“It was an interesting game,” said assistant coach Mark Hoggard, filling in for head coach Tommy Tripp, who missed the game for personal reasons. “This is such a big intra-county rivalry and we haven’t had a lot of success against them in the past.”

Lawrence perhaps surprised the home squad when they blazed out to an 8-2 lead to open the game.

The Warriors forced the Eagles to come out their zone and face guard them when Hunter Askew dropped a jump shot which was answered by one from Bethel’s Trey Hoggard

That was followed by Darren Armstrong asserting himself in the paint, first with a layup and then with a steal and a layup. Jesse White added a jumper and Hoggard was forced to burn his first time-out.

The Eagles got the message and came out of the quick break with a 6-0 run of their own to tie the contest at 8-all.

Lawrence took their last lead when White cashed in a jump shot from the corner to make it 10-8, but Daniel Fehr came right back and drove the baseline for a layup and the final tie of the game at 10-10.

It was then Bethel’s turn to attack the perimeter and Freeman got things going by dropping a three-pointer for a lead Bethel never lost again. This was all part of a 9-0 run that propelled the Eagles to a 17-10 first quarter lead.

Bethel needed that bulge because the second quarter was played even-up with both teams scoring 19 points.

Lawrence came close; getting within two, 29-27, with six minutes gone in the frame on a pair of Chase Stevens free throws.

But Bethel ended the quarter with a 7-2 run and provided the best drama of the night when Tripp hit a fallaway three-pointer from the corner just as the buzzer sounded and led his team into the locker room still up by seven, 36-29.

Bethel won the third quarter battle by just a deuce as the hosts twice took leads of 11 points: first on a Fehr three-point play and again on a turnaround jump shot by Freeman.

The play on the floor became more physical by both teams and the refs whistled a total of 13 fouls in the quarter. Lawrence, however, got the worst of it with White fouling out with just over a minute left in the quarter and the Warriors down by eight

Bethel went into the fourth quarter leading 49-40.

Any chance at a Lawrence comeback was quashed in the final frame.

Bethel put together a 16-5 run and along the way, Lawrence’s Armstrong fouled out taking any remaining frontcourt muscle the Warriors may have had with him.

With just over three minutes to play Bethel had built a lead of 20 points, 65-45; and they equaled it a minute later on Freeman’s last field-goal of the night.

Tripp ended the Bethel scoring with 48 seconds left when he dropped in two free throws for the biggest lead of the night, 69-48.Lawrence (2-5) got a couple of late buckets for the final margin of the night.

“We were a little slow getting out of the gate,” said Hoggard, “but we got a little bit better over the last couple of weeks.”

The win end’s Bethel’s games for 2011.  They’ll open 2012 hosting Faith Christian of Rocky Mount on January 3.