By duck duckson
News + Record Staff
PITTSBORO — Overcoming a large deficit in the closing minutes, the Northwood Chargers played their best basketball at the end of the game to seal a 65-63 …
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PITTSBORO — Overcoming a large deficit in the closing minutes, the Northwood Chargers played their best basketball at the end of the game to seal a 65-63 overtime victory over Chapel Hill in conference play Friday evening.
Northwood (14-5 overall, 6-3 Big Eight 3A) got 48 points combined from Deuce Powell and Aaron Ross, with their biggest contributions coming late in the contest.
After a furious Northwood rally in the fourth quarter, Chapel Hill’s Drew Gilleskie hit a pair of free throws to put the Tigers (12-8, 5-5) up by three with just more than 17 seconds remaining. But Powell, who led all scorers with 26 points, nailed a three-pointer with the clock winding down to force overtime. After a tight, back-and-forth overtime period, Ross’ turnaround jumper off an inbounds pass gave Northwood the victory with 2.3 seconds left in the frame.
Chapel Hill got off to a quick 9-3 lead thanks to treys by Ben Gaynes, Grant Ferris and Isaac Sinclair in the opening two-and-a-half minutes of play, but following an exchange of baskets, Ross tallied seven unanswered points on two free throws, a three-pointer from behind the top of the key and a fast break dunk to give Northwood a one-point advantage. In what would become a theme of the game — hitting shots in the final seconds of periods — Jay Hladik’s trey from the left corner with 4.4 seconds on the clock put the Tigers up 14-12 after one quarter.
The Chargers were limited to Powell’s three-pointer from the left wing and a Jack Thompson foul shot in the second stanza. Chapel Hill took advantage of three treys by Gaynes — who had five threes total while scoring 21 points in the game — to put 15 points on the board and surge to a 29-16 halftime lead.
The Tigers maintained anywhere from an 11 to 14-point margin throughout the third period until Jake Chisholm’s three-pointer from the left wing with 6.4 seconds to go in the quarter increased their advantage to 45-28 entering the final eight minutes.
Chapel Hill still held a 17-point lead at 51-34 with 5:09 remaining in regulation play when Adam Omar’s trey from the left side ignited an 18-2 Northwood run that closed the gap to one with 1:08 to go. Following free throws by Gilleskie and Sinclair, who had 13 points, that stretched the Tigers’ advantage to 56-52, Jalen McAfee pulled the Chargers back within one with a three-pointer from the left wing with 30.9 seconds remaining.
Gilleskie hit free throws to extend the lead, but Powell’s three from the left side with 1.9 seconds left in regulation gave the fans some free basketball.
Chapel Hill got just one lead in overtime at 59-58 after leading for much of regulation, but Alex Snively’s three-pointer gave Northwood a two-point advantage. The teams traded buckets until Ross, who finished the night with 22 points, swished the winning jumper with the end of the extra period drawing near.
Northwood snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Tigers by committing just seven turnovers to Chapel Hill’s 19 despite being outshot. The Chargers shot 37 percent (26-of-70) from the floor and held a 27-22 advantage on the glass, while the Tigers connected on 46 percent (18-of-39) of their field goal attempts.