PITTSBORO — Alex Snively’s three-pointer from the left corner with 1:36 to play ignited a 9-0 Northwood run that snapped a 54-all stalemate and propelled the Chargers to a 65-56 triumph over …
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PITTSBORO — Alex Snively’s three-pointer from the left corner with 1:36 to play ignited a 9-0 Northwood run that snapped a 54-all stalemate and propelled the Chargers to a 65-56 triumph over pesky East Chapel Hill in opening-round action of the Big Eight 3A Conference tournament Monday night in Lewis Norwood Gymnasium.
The victory lifted third-seeded Northwood to 17-8 for the year and sent the Chargers into a semifinal round matchup Wednesday evening at second-seeded Southern Durham (19-5), while the sixth-seeded Wildcats closed out their season 10-15 overall.
Deuce Powell led three Northwood players in double figures with 18 points, Aaron Ross chipped in 15 and Jalen McAfee added 13. East Chapel Hill’s Will Tyndall tossed in a game-high 20 points, with teammate Miles Merriweather contributing 15.
While both teams connected on 20 field goals, including five three-pointers apiece, the outcome was decided at the free throw line, where the Chargers converted 20-of-23 attempts compared to the Wildcats sinking 11-of-17 foul shots.
“Northwood did a good job being the aggressor early on and put more energy into getting loose balls, especially in the second quarter when I felt we played passively,” said East Chapel Hill coach Ray Hartsfield. “As a result we found ourselves down by 12 at intermission and facing an uphill climb in the second half.”
“But then we managed to cure our rotation in the third quarter and took advantage of good post passes to make a run and pull even until we let Northwood off the hook by committing crucial turnovers on our last three possessions.”
Chargers’ coach Matt Brown explained free throws were a huge factor in the contest, noting his team made all 13 of its charity tosses in the final period to pull out the win.
“After building a nice lead at halftime, we stopped looking inside for high percentage shots and instead were content to shoot from the corners and the high post area,” remarked Brown.
“Meanwhile, East Chapel Hill began attacking the rim and we didn’t respond well, which allowed them to seize the momentum early in the fourth quarter.”
“But our ability to pick up our game in the paint down the stretch proved to be the difference as we took advantage of their fouls to get to the line and convert our opportunities.”
A seesaw opening stanza featured six lead changes and ended with the Wildcats on top 16-15 following Ryan Levy’s turnaround jumper in the lane with 1.8 seconds left on the clock.
Back-to-back Ross hoops to begin the second quarter sparked an 8-0 Northwood run that put the winners up by seven midway through the frame, and after the Wildcats trimmed the gap to 27-22 on Merriweather’s trey from the left corner with 2:57 remaining until the break, the Chargers closed out the half with consecutive lane jumpers by Powell and Ross coupled with Adam Omar’s three-pointer from the right wing to forge a 12-point advantage at intermission.
Outscoring Northwood 13-7 in the third period, East Chapel Hill cut its deficit to 41-35 when Merriweather canned a trey launched from near midcourt at the horn and eventually reclaimed the lead at 45-43 on Tyndall’s lane jumper with 6:06 left to play.
The advantage then went back and forth five times before a foul shot by the Wildcats’ Yashiya Crespin knotted the count at 54-all with 2:38 to go.
But after Snively’s trey a minute later gave the Chargers the lead for good, Northwood sank six straight free throws and added a Ross fast break layup in the time remaining to put the game away.