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January 25, 2014

Senior sweep

North Murray uses scoring spurts to overcome Creek

CHATSWORTH — Both North Murray High School varsity basketball teams used a similar winning formula against Coahulla Creek on Friday night.

Build a double-digit lead, tighten the grip and hold on for a senior night sweep.

Tied at halftime, North Murray’s girls built a 17-point fourth quarter advantage and survived in a 51-44 Region 5-3A win. The boys had a better first half — leading by double digits, 36-24, at the break — and won 60-47 after Coahulla Creek got within six points in the third period.

Facing a Coahulla Creek boys team without much inside presence and an offense designed on patience, outside shooting and dribble-drive penetration, North Murray (13-6, 5-4) scored the game’s first eight points and built a 25-14 lead on Noah Allen’s bank shot with around three minutes before halftime. Adrian Cooks’ 3-pointer preceded consecutive 3-pointers from Hinton McConkey to put the Mountaineers ahead 36-21 in the last minute.

“Since they don’t have a set offense they run — they are five out — when you get ahead of them, they can’t really do anything,” said McConkey, who scored 11 points. “When they’re not knocking down their shots, they can’t get points.”

But the Colts (8-12, 3-7) didn’t pack up or give up. Levi Wilson’s 3-pointer halfway through the third period cut North Murray’s lead to 43-37, the end result of a 16-7 run since McConkey’s second 3-pointer. Nathan Spivey’s offensive rebound and layup for the Mountaineers ended the run and North Murray kept a lead of at least eight points the rest of the game.

Coahulla Creek shot 8-for-32 from 3-point range.

“We didn’t do a great job of penetrating,” Colts coach Matthew Queener said. “North Murray did a great job of playing a packed-in defense where they stayed within the 3-point line and dared us to make outside shots. We made a few but missed a lot.”

Drake McCowan had a double-double effort with 11 points and 11 rebounds for North Murray. Omar Romero, the team’s lone senior, had eight points and seven rebounds.

“The thing that frustrates me is we have a chance to put a team away, and we don’t,” North Murray coach Tim Ellis said. “Either we give up offensive boards or whatever. I’m extremely proud for the team gutting it out and getting the win.”

Levi Wilson had a game-high 16 points and Hunter Williams added 10 for Coahulla Creek, which never led. Wilson and Williams both received technical fouls — apparently for unsportsmanlike conduct — in the final minute.

“I’m proud of our kids the way they fought,” Queener said. “I’m embarrassed of a couple kids and the technicals they got. ... That’s not what our program is about.”

In the girls game, Coahulla Creek (6-14, 3-7) led 23-19 after back-to-back baskets from Nikki Ross, who had a game-high 16 points and eight rebounds. Amber Bandy responded with two consecutive post moves to tie the game at halftime, and North Murray (9-12, 4-5) scored the second half’s first 14 points with Kara Deal’s two 3-pointers and another 3 by Baylee Sutton pacing the run.

“We’ve started slow in most of the games this year,” Lady Mountaineers coach Keith Robinette said. “... I thought we did a pretty good job tonight — at least better than other games.”

Coahulla Creek only scored five points in the third period, and the only field goal in that quarter was a Sydney Storey 3-pointer with just seconds left.

“Any time you can hold a team to one field goal and five points in a quarter, that’s huge,” Robinette said.

The Lady Colts cut North Murray’s lead to 45-38 with Haley Reece’s bank shot at around three minutes left, but never mounted a serious threat late.

“It started on offense and we had some confusion,” Coahulla Creek coach Ryan Long said of the third quarter. “They dropped a defender down low in the zone and left a guard open. ... We tried to snap out of it and play some man-to-man defense. They got hot. So it was on two fronts there where we were unsure of ourselves.”

Deal, one of North Murray’s two seniors, had a team-high 14 points. Megan Pittman added 12 and the team’s other senior, Grace Phillips, had seven points and five rebounds. For Coahulla Creek, Reece complimented Ross with 11 points.                                                                                                             

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