February 15, 2013

Area prep roundup: North Murray basketball teams clinch state, reach region semis

North Murray High School’s boys basketball team is headed for the state tournament for a second straight year.

The Lady Mountaineers hope their first trip to state is just one of many, too.

North Murray’s boys and girls both won quarterfinal matchups with Adairsville on Thursday in the Region 5-3A tournaments at Gordon County’s Sonoraville High.

Abigail Bradley led the way with a 20-point performance as the Lady Mountaineers won 49-44, leading at the end of each quarter but needing a strong start-to-finish effort to clinch a top-four finish in the region and grab a berth in the Class 3A state tournament, which starts next week.

Lady Mountaineers coach Keith Robinette gave credit for the victory to his seniors’ “sense of urgency” about not missing in their last chance at a state berth, as well as the underclassmen who didn’t want the 12th-graders to leave without that opportunity.

“The last week of the season it really hit home with our seniors,” Robinette said. “You could tell by how they were interacting in the locker room and on the court. I hope we can continue this, because it’s our goal to be in the state tournament every year and contend for the region championship.”

Against Adairsville, North Murray (16-10) led 10-8 after the first quarter, 25-20 at halftime and 32-26 heading into the final period, where Bradley did some of her best work. She finished the night 18-for-22 from the foul line, including a 9-for-12 effort in the fourth quarter.

Casey Chapman — who filled in for starting center Meagan Spivey as she dealt with foul trouble — chipped in 12 points, while Hannah Hensley had seven.

“It was just a fight all night, so I’m real proud of our kids,” Robinette said.

The Lady Mountaineers will take on Sonoraville at 7 tonight in the region semifinals with hopes of playing in Saturday’s title game. Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe and Gordon Central match up in the other semifinal at 4 p.m.

North Murray’s boys had little trouble in their 66-40 win against Adairsville, leading 23-8 by the end of the first quarter.

They were up 39-17 at halftime, and their 60-27 lead after three quarters shortened the final period to six minutes via the Georgia High School Association’s mercy rule.

“We got after it pretty good,” said Tim Ellis, who is in his first season as the team’s coach.

Zach Vess led the way for the Mountaineers (20-6) with 22 points, while Brady Swilling added 13, Austen Horn chipped in 11 and Jacob Sexton had seven.

North Murray’s diligence on the glass helped create offensive success and caused trouble for the Tigers, Ellis said.

“We rebounded the mess out of it,” he said. “I don’t have official stats, but in the first three quarters they didn’t get a lot of extra shots, I can promise you that.”

North Murray takes on Gordon Central at 5:30 p.m. today in the region semifinals. Top-seeded Cartersville will face either Ringgold or Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe — who played Thursday’s late boys quarterfinal — in the other semifinal at 8:30 p.m.

This will be the Mountaineers’ third try at taming Gordon Central, which beat them 58-52 and 63-62 during the regular season.

But regardless of that result, they’re assured of their second trip to state in just three seasons of varsity basketball at the school. Last year’s trip ended in the opening round of the Class 2A bracket, but Ellis is hoping to make a deep run this time.

“It was one of our goals going into the season,” Ellis said of making the state tournament. “It’s not all of them, but it’s nice to be able to check that off the list. ... I’m not ready for this to end. I want it to keep going for a while.”

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