PITTSBORO — Northern Durham grabbed its first lead with 4.5 seconds to go before halftime and never trailed again except for one brief moment midway through the third period while the Knights …
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PITTSBORO — Northern Durham grabbed its first lead with 4.5 seconds to go before halftime and never trailed again except for one brief moment midway through the third period while the Knights managed to hold off Northwood down the stretch to spoil the Chargers’ Senior Night by collecting a 56-45 Big Eight 3A Conference triumph Friday evening in Lewis Norwood Gymnasium.
Gaining a split of the season series while beating its host for the seventh time in eight meetings, Northern Durham improved to 6-6 in the league standings and 8-14 for the year, whereas Northwood stumbled to 8-4 in the conference and 16-6 overall.
X’zavier McFadden notched a game-high 21 points, including a 15-of-20 effort at the charity stripe, while Treyvion Goodwin added a dozen points for the Knights, who shot 56 percent (18-of-32) from the floor to help overcome 16 turnovers.
The Chargers were led by 13 points from Aaron Ross as Northwood connected on 35 percent (14-of-40) of its field goal attempts while turning the ball over 13 times.
“Defense was the key tonight, as it was the best we’ve played all year,” said Northern Durham mentor Ronnie Russell following the outcome.
“Our defense set up a lot of points and was steady every quarter,” Russell said, “while I thought we did a good job keeping our composure matching Northwood’s patience on offense.”
Chargers’ coach Matt Brown noted his team was playing its third game in four days and was coming off a big emotional win against Durham Hillside one night earlier, but refused to offer up those factors as excuses for his squad’s performance.
“Give Northern Durham credit, they played a great game and took it to us,” Brown said.
“We took some ill-advised shots with an early lead, then ran into foul trouble which got them to the line early and they did a good job executing their free throws.”
“They also did a fantastic job guarding us to disrupt what we wanted to do offensively.”
With Jalen McAfee and Ross combining for all of Northwood’s first-quarter points, the Chargers forged a 9-3 advantage by the conclusion of the initial stanza before McFadden did his part to turn the tables, recording all but two of the Knights’ 11 points in the second period, including a pair of free throws with barely four seconds on the clock that put the winners ahead 14-12 at the break.
Northwood retook a 19-18 lead following McAfee’s three-pointer from the right wing with 4:16 remaining in the third quar-ter prior to Travis Jones’ jumper in the lane 11 seconds later that gave the advantage back to Northern Durham for good.
After Goodwin’s trey from the left wing increased the Knights’ lead to 29-22 at the start of the fourth stanza, the Chargers reduced the difference to two a minute later following Alex Snively’s three-pointer from the right wing plus his midcourt steal and layup.
But Northern Durham answered the challenge by putting together an 11-4 run over the next three minutes to boost its advantage to 40-31 and Northwood never crept closer than six in the time remaining.