North Murray’s boys basketball team is closing out the regular season exactly where it wants to be — at home.
The Mountaineers will finish the year against the two teams ahead of them in the Region 5-3A standings in a building where they haven’t been beaten this year, and Friday night’s win over Ringgold at Mountaineer Gymnasium kept that perfect record intact.
North Murray’s 56-21 victory against the Tigers, whom they led the whole way, keeps the Mountaineers near the region’s top teams — Gordon Central and Cartersville — as the regular season nears its end. In the girls game, North Murray dominated winless Ringgold in a 66-21 victory.
The Mountaineers host Gordon Central on Tuesday and Cartersville in Friday’s regular-season finale. Both teams beat the Mountaineers earlier this season and were sitting atop the region standings heading into Friday’s games — Cartersville undefeated and Gordon Central with just one region loss.
However, it was important to avoid overlooking Ringgold.
“We understand that we can be beat on any night,” North Murray senior post Zach Vess said. “We just believe in each other and respect everybody. If we don’t respect teams, then we can be beaten.”
Austen Horn’s two 3-pointers helped the Mountaineers (19-4, 10-2) score the first 12 points. A 14-3 lead at the end of the first quarter became a 21-5 edge with less than three minutes left in the first half, and then a 27-5 halftime advantage.
“We made a big emphasis in the last week on getting back to doing what brought us to this 19-4 record,” North Murray coach Tim Ellis said. “We made a major emphasis all week on getting after people defensively and sticking to our game plan.”
Ringgold (10-12, 6-6) didn’t get an offensive rebound in the first half but finally grabbed one in the third quarter after the Mountaineers emptied their bench.
“I think one of the things is we’re a little bit immature and small,” Tigers coach Greg Elkins said. “We had to go zone against a team that big, and when you do that it’s tough boxing out. We got killed on the boards in the first half.”
The Mountaineers have come to grow fond of their home-court advantage.
“I think this is a good win for us,” Ellis said. “Tonight we had a very good home-court atmosphere. I appreciate it. Our kids appreciate it. I hope we have it and then some next week.”
Vess had 17 points and added seven rebounds, while teammates Brady Swilling and Hinton McConkey each chipped in eight points and four rebounds. Kile Sholl’s seven points led the Tigers.
• North Murray girls 66, Ringgold 21: Leading 14-8 in the second quarter, the Lady Mountaineers (14-9, 7-5) went on a 33-5 run that stretched across halftime into the third.
Abigail Bradley and Meagan Spivey each finished with nine points for North Murray, which scored the first 11 points and then led 26-9 at halftime and 54-18 after three.
“Tonight we were able to put some pressure on them, cause some turnovers and convert,” Lady Mountaineers coach Keith Robinette said. “In the first half, we missed some inside shots. But defensively, we mixed up some presses to give different looks, and the kids busted it.”
Dara Dople, Casey Chapman and Hannah Hensley each added seven points for North Murray, which had six 3-pointers. Ringgold only made one shot from behind the arc.
“We executed in the half court a lot better than Tuesday night,” said Robinette, whose team fell 51-30 to region leader Sonoraville. “We went through about everything that we do in the half court. We saw some different kids stepping in and scoring here and there. I’m real pleased with that.”