Rams squeak by Eagles

Published 9:11 am Monday, January 20, 2014

AHOSKIE – Playing without starters Landon Larabee and Woody Lowe, Ridgecroft coach Daniel Mullens juggled his line-up; but it was good enough for a 44-40 whisker win over Bethel Assembly Christian Academy.

Nathan Askew picked up the scoring for the Rams and led all scorers with 20 points, the only Ridgecroft player who scored in double-digits.

Wayne Wall had 11 points to pace Bethel while his Eagles’ teammate, Alex Lanier, scored 10.  Trey Hoggard just missed making it a trifecta in double-figure scoring as he finished with nine.

“We played a little short tonight because of injuries,” said Mullens after the game. “We had to have guys step up and they did a good job. Overall we had great effort.”

Bethel tied the game twice in the early going. Once on a Hoggard jump shot and again when Neil scored on a lay-up that made it 4-4. The teams exchanged baskets for much of the first quarter. Lanier’s put-back gave Bethel its first lead at 7-6 before Jay Lane made one of two free throws to tie it for the third time at 7-all. Wall scored on a break-away allowing Bethel to re-take the lead before Askew drained a three-pointer that put the Rams back in front 10-8 just before the first quarter buzzer sounded.

Ridgecroft expanded that lead by scoring the first seven points of the second quarter for a 17-8 lead. From there, the offense slowed tremendously as both teams began to misfire at the basket and the score was 20-15, Ridgecroft in front by five, as the two teams headed to the locker room at half-time.

Trailing by seven early in the second half, Bethel mounted their second run of the night when Trent Davidson got things going with a base-line lay-up. Lanier then scored twice in a row and suddenly it was a one-point Rams lead, 22-21. Askew broke the Bethel string with a three-pointer to push Ridgecroft back in front by four. John Thomas Taylor added a pair of free throws and it was a six point game again, 27-21. Wall and Matthew Neil answered for Bethel and the Ram lead was just one point, 28-27, when the third quarter came to a close.

Wall tied the game making one-of-two foul shots to open the fourth quarter and it was 28-all. Hoggard finally found his scoring touch again and his field goal put Bethel in front, 30-28 before he added to it with a three-point shot that left the Rams down five. After another Neil score in the low post Bethel led by seven, 37-30, midway thru the final frame.

But then Askew took over, first with a steal and lay-up and then with a conventional three-point play. Wall made it a four-point lead again at 39-35, Bethel before Ridgecroft came alive for a final push down the stretch.  Askew came thru again to get them within two; then Lane made one-of-two at the line to make it 39-38.  Bethel’s lead disappeared for the last time when Lane – who did all his scoring in the final four minutes of the game – put his team back in front, 40-39. Another Wall foul shot tied the score for the last time, 40-40, with a minute and a half left to play.

Then came the fatal swing. Barkan Koeprueluegil, quiet for most of the night, got a key block with 35 seconds left, and raced up floor to give the Rams back the lead, 42-40. Sixteen seconds later, Askew was fouled and made both free throws to ice the non-conference showdown that also gave Ridgecroft a four-point win.

The Rams play Tuesday night in Merry Hill back in Tarheel Independent Conference play against Lawrence Academy.

Bethel  (40)

Wayne Wall-11;  Alex Lanier-10;  Trey Hoggard-9;  Matthew Neil-8; Trent Davidson-2.

Ridgecroft  (44)

Nathan Askew-20; John Taylor-7; Barkan Koeprueluegil-6; Jay Lane-4; Brandon Steiner-2; Boyd Tisdale-2; Cade Quattlebaum-2; Tucker Lane-1.