Sunday, February 20, 2011

Northland Gets One for the Thumb

In front of a sellout crowd at East High School in Columbus, the Northland Vikings held off the Walnut Ridge Scots to claim their 5th consecutive Columbus City League Championship. Walnut Ridge controlled the tip and drew first blood after Adam McCall drove the lane, was fouled, and converted both free throws. The Scots would go on a McCall-led 5-0 run before a Trey Burke layup and free throw at the 5:45 mark got the Vikings on the board. Northland took its first lead when Devon Scott sank 2 free throws to put the Vikings up 8-7. With Dwayne Bazemore's 2 freebies, Walnut Ridge reclaimed the lead (9-8) with 3:20 left in the period. Northland went back on top 10-9 with a Trey Burke pull-up at the 2:22 mark. For the rest of the first quarter, Ridge’s shaky guard play led to turnovers and a Northland run that pushed the Northland lead to 17-11 to end the quarter.

Although Ridge started the second period with possession of the ball, another turnover and a Devin Scott put back got the Vikings on the board first, and increased the Northland lead to 19-11. Very early in the contest it was clear that Northland’s defense was going to be the difference, as Devon Scott quickly exerted his dominance in the paint with multiple blocks, while the Walnut Ridge guards started coughing up the rock. Back-to-back Ridge turnovers and a Jordan Potts 3-pointer pushed Northland’s lead to 25-13 midway through the second quarter. Adam McCall stopped the bleeding with layup at the 3:40 mark to cut the lead to 10 points. For the remainder of the first half, Ridge turned up the pressure and eventually cut the lead to 8 points, as the opening half ended in a score of 19-27.

Walnut Ridge opened the second half on a positive note, as Rico Spears drove baseline and finished a reverse lay-up to cut the lead to 22-27; however, Devin Scott answered right back with a jumper as Northland went up 29-22. Both teams traded buckets for a while, and although the Vikings maintained the lead, Ridge refused to go away and went on a late quarter run to close the period 42-35.

Jalen Robinson’s dunk to start the 4th period increased Northland’s lead to 44-35. When Ridge’s Dwayne Bazemore went to the bench with foul trouble early in the closing period, Scott and Robinson went to work in the paint and ran the Viking lead to 38-48. An Adam McCall jumper and a Ridge layup cut the lead to 5 points (45-50). Although Ridge would pull to within 4 points, Jalen Robinson’s dunk was the final statement, as Northland went on to claim the title with a final score of 59-52.

Some of the story lines in the game included the outstanding play of Deven Scott, both offensively and defensively; the first half scoring by Trey Burke; Jordan Pott’s team-high 15 points and the Northland’s overall defensive effort. Also, for the Scots, Rico Spears was very effective defensively against Trey Burke, holding the Michigan-bound guard to only 2 free throws in the second half. The leading scorers for Northland were Jordan Potts (15), Trey Burke and Devon Scott (14) and Jalen Robinson (11). The top man for the Scots was Fred Hardgrove who finished with a team-high 11 points, followed by Adam McCall (11), Austin Traylor (9) and Dwayne Bazemore (7). Congratulations to Northland players and fans for a sustained period of excellence.

The Vikings will start tournament play on Wednesday the 23rd when the face off against Groveport-Madison.  The Scots' first round opponent will be the winner between Grove City and DresdenTri-Valley on Friday the 25th.  To see the photos I took at the game, visit the Buckeye Prep Facebook Fan Page. Check out the Cap City Preps video!

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