Rams edge Lawrence

Published 1:30 pm Wednesday, January 23, 2013

AHOSKIE – Winning is sometimes the best medicine.

After their school was closed for 10 days, counting weekends, because of the flu before reopening Tuesday, the Ridgecroft boys basketball team gave themselves a booster-shot with a whisker win, 48-47, over rival Lawrence Academy here Tuesday.

The school was disinfected for control of the virus, but there was little controlling the Rams’ viral aggressiveness Tuesday night in this win.

Ridgecroft seemed to go after every loose ball, grab every rebound and generally hold the taller Warriors at bay.  The loss snaps a seven-game Tarheel Independent Conference win streak for Lawrence.

Landon Larabee, with a dozen points in the first half and 10 more in the second, led all scorers with 22 for Ridgecroft, while teammate Julian Becker added 15 more, including three three-pointers in the second half.

Nathaniel Holton had 11 for Lawrence with teammates Darren Armstrong and Jesse White chipping in 10 apiece.

“We couldn’t come back after 10 days off on a better note,” said Rams coach Chris Hill. “It was a really big win against a conference foe we’d already lost to, so that feels great.

“We said if we could get some hands in their face and distract some shots then we’d have a chance,” he added. “Our defense has always been what drives us.”

The Rams came out ‘driven’ to open the game. Elijah Goldsby got a quick pair of layups for a 4-0 lead and Ridgecroft was off and running.

Armstrong broke the ice with Lawrence’s first field goal, but he had to go to the bench after picking up two quick fouls. Ridgecroft, meanwhile mounted a 9-5 run and upped their lead to 13-7.

The quarter finished with the Rams ahead, 15-9.

It was 19-13, Ridgecroft, in the second quarter when Lawrence mounted a comeback behind White.  They outscored the Rams 9-4 and, despite their lethargic play, they only trailed by one at halftime, 23-22.

Armstrong came back strong to open the third quarter, scoring eight of Lawrence’s 10 points in the frame, and their first eight in a row that staked the Warriors to their first lead of the game at 30-28.

Ridgecroft hung tough, though as Becker got a trey and Larabee a layup; and on the Rams’ next possession, Jordan Harrell drove the lane for his only field goal of the night, but it tied the game at 30-all.

The other smaller Rams showed they weren’t afraid to drive the middle either, as Goldsby got another layup in the lane. Becker capped off the comeback with a rainbow three-pointer that dazzled and delighted the Ridgecroft faithful.

The teams entered the final eight minutes with the home team ahead, 35-32.

In the quarter break, Lawrence coach Jon Powell exhorted his team to seize command of the game, but it never came.

Brandon Steiner and Larabee twirled in layups off Lawrence turnovers to push the Rams farther ahead 39-32 to open the frame.  With the Ram lead at five, Becker whisked in another trey for a 44-36 advantage.

Lawrence was called for goal-tending on their next possession, and Larabee then threw up a wild off-balance jump shot that staked the Rams to their biggest lead of the night: nine points, 46-38.

It was that same bulge, 48-39, when Lawrence made their final push.  Kyle Pendleton banked in a shot off a missed free throw and Nat Holton then bombed in a three-pointer.

Ryan Lilley followed that up with another three and with 50 seconds left, it was a one-point game; setting up the final drama of the night.

Lawrence fouled and the Rams missed the one-and-one, but did secure the rebound.  Another foul, another miss, and Ridgecroft outjumps the taller Warriors for the carom, but fumbled the ball out of bounds.

Lawrence brought it up with 14 seconds left and a chance for the win, but they turned the ball over.  Lawrence fouled one last time, and Ridgecroft missed again at the line, but gobbled up the rebound that preserved the win.

“It was like we were in a fog (sometimes),” said Lawrence coach Powell.  “I don’t know if it was the cold, or coming over here, or what, but we were just in a fog.”

As for the last plays of the game, he said, “We work on specific ways to box-out on free throws and on those plays we didn’t even make an attempt to follow through with our fundamentals.

“We weren’t strong, it was just a lack of toughness throughout,” he added. “Every team in the conference knows out weaknesses, and they’re going to play to them.”

Lawrence falls to 12-6 and 1-7 in TIC play.  RIdgecroft ups its record to 8-6, and 4-2 in league play.

The Rams are at Albemarle Friday night while Lawrence has a non-conference showdown at Bethel on Thursday and travel to Terra Ceia the following night.