January 11, 2014

Dalton pulls away late against short-handed Northwest

Missing three players who have played considerable minutes this season, Northwest Whitfield High School’s boys basketball team saw others come through on offense.

Until the start of Friday’s second half.

That is when Dalton put a metaphorical wall around its basket.

The Catamounts outscored Northwest 20-6 in the third quarter and won 83-52 to snap a four-game losing streak in the rivalry, which will see these two teams play at least once more this season.

Dalton improves to 2-0 in the early Sub-region 7B-4A slate, while Northwest falls to 1-1 in league play. The Bruins were without seniors Tanner Bailey and Caleb Storey, who coach Ryan Richards said were suspended for a violation of team rules, and fellow senior Nick Bramblett, who Richards said quit the team in December.

Ahead 40-33 at halftime, Dalton (9-4) scored 12 of the first 14 points in the third quarter with Braxton Thomas’ shot putting Northwest (8-4) in a 52-35 hole, one the Bruins couldn’t recover from.

“All coaches talk about the first three minutes of the second half and getting off to a good start,” Richards said. “We got off to a horrible start.”

Northwest scored 18 of its 33 first-half points near the basket. Dalton coach Mike Duffie said a first half defensive gameplan consisting of traps and a press allowed for easier opportunities for the Bruins.

“Straight man-to-man,” Duffie said. “Just strap it on and stop your man, and that was pretty good half-court defense in the second half. I don’t think they got many easy looks.”

That was the difference as Northwest was forced to shoot from the outside and only made 3-of-14 3-pointers in the game. Dalton shot 49 percent from the field, while Northwest finished at 31 percent.

“We started feeling it in our legs a little bit,” Richards said. “Our shots started falling a little short.”

Northwest scored the game’s first four points and held a 6-2 lead when Walker Maret converted a basket. Dalton grabbed its first lead, 12-9, on Mark Sims’ 3-pointer halfway through the first period. That didn’t deflate the Bruins, who trailed 21-15 when the first quarter ended and kept Dalton’s lead to single digits most of the second quarter. Cyus Addison’s layup with 5:44 left cut Dalton’s lead to 27-22. The teams went back and forth trading baskets until Emier Bowman’s converted shot at the end of the half.

“In the first half, they were getting back cuts and layups,” Bowman said. “In the second half, we took the game from them. ... We started dishing the ball more and started getting our big men involved.”

Bowman finished the game with 21 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks. He erupted the home crowd in the fourth quarter with a dunk to put Dalton ahead 70-45. Thomas added 16 points and seven rebounds. Sims helped with 12 points and six assists. Dalton won the rebound battle 45-29 and the offensive rebound battle 14-5.

According to Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office arrest reports, Storey and Bailey each were charged with obstruction and Storey also was charged with loitering/prowling from an incident Dec. 30. Bailey returns from his suspension for Tuesday’s game while Storey will be suspended for two more games, Richards said.

Without them, Andy Whisenant led the Bruins with 16 points and seven rebounds. Addison chipped in with 10 points.

“They have more than just two players,” Duffie said. “Next time we play, I know the game will be different.”

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