December 8, 2012

Solid start for Murray County basketball squads in region play

Chris Whitfield

CHATSWORTH — Murray County senior post Brady Todd seemingly couldn’t make a free throw Friday night against Pepperell, but he did just about everything else.

And what Todd couldn’t do, point guard Martin Contreras did.

Todd finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds — he also took three charges working in the paint against Dragons big man Andy Dodd — while Contreras was 9 of 9 from the free-throw line, scoring on a putback and completing the three-point play at the line with six seconds to play in the Indians’ 60-57 comeback at Kenneth Ross Gymnasium.

“Brady Todd is a warrior, and (fellow post player) Matt Corbin is right there with him,” Indians coach Greg Linder said.

The pair in the paint combined for 26 points and 20 rebounds. Contreras added 15 points, and the Indians erased a 15-point second half deficit as the Dragons suffered foul trouble late in the game.

The Indians’ successful rally made it a sweep for Murray County after the girls held off the Lady Dragons down the stretch and took a 49-39 victory. The wins came in the Region 7-2A opener for both teams.

From the start of the boys game, it looked as if the Dragons would win in a rout. Pepperell was 8 of 8 on 3-point shooting in the opening period and built a 26-13 lead by the end of the quarter.

“We went and scouted them earlier, and they didn’t shoot it very well from the perimeter, so our plan was to sag back on their players in the paint,” Linder said. “But they shot the lights out in the first half.”

Luckily for the Indians, the Dragons cooled off. They hit just two more baskets from behind the 3-point line the rest of the night, and Murray County was able to keep pace before finally chipping away in the fourth. It wasn’t until Corbin hit a backdoor layup with 5:35 remaining that the Indians cut the Pepperell lead back to single digits.

With Pepperell leading 53-48 with 3:06 left, the Dragons’ Darrius Fugh was whistled for a technical foul after ripping the ball away when Todd tied him up. Todd was also called for a foul on the play, but Fugh’s tech put Contreras at the line and he sank both free throws.

Jake Ice then buried a 3-pointer with 2:38 left to tie the game at 53.

Fugh, who led all scorers with 19 points, was then whistled for his fifth foul with 2:06 remaining — but Todd missed the free throws that could have given the Indians the lead, and Pepperell went up 55-53 on a second-chance basket. Todd then drew a charge on Dodd, a 6-foot-4-inch 305 pounder who has committed to play football at LSU. Dodd was called for a technical after the foul, and Contreras tied the game at 55 by sinking both free throws.

The two teams traded baskets in the final minute to set up Contreras’ final heroics.

“In the fourth, we went to our half-court trap and became super aggressive,” Linder said. “The guys responded to that style of play and started hopping around. I think we might have hurt ourselves by not being aggressive in the first half.”

Murray County girls 49, Pepperell 39: McKenzie Carroll had 16 points — scoring eight in each half — and the Lady Indians (3-3) never led by fewer than nine points in the fourth quarter.

“(Carroll) pretty much is the controller of the game for us,” Murray County coach Michael Hill said. “She is not real vocal, but the other girls feed off of her so much when she goes on her runs.”

Ashlee Strong added 10 points for the Lady Indians, whose lead slipped to six points in the third quarter before they responded with a 9-4 spurt to regain control of the game.

That response, Hill said, was a testament to how much his team has grown in the last year.

“Our goal and our motto this season is we are playing possession by possession,” Hill said. “I think the girls are buying into it, and if they make a mistake, they forget about it and push on to the next possession.”

Sisters Madison and Erin Wilder paced Pepperell with 13 and 12 points, respectively.