Northwestern’s final offensive play Friday night against Dorman summed up the Trojans’ learning process in the high school basketball season’s early weeks.
After a Northwestern steal that essentially killed off any hope of a Cavaliers comeback, sophomore Quiveon Beckham thumped home a slam dunk exclamation point. But he swung on the rim and was quickly whistled for a technical foul, incensing Trojan coach Larry Davis. Beckham was one of three players from the two teams who were teed up for hanging on the rim Friday night, but Northwestern was ultimately able to overcome its episodic mistakes to knock off Thomas Ryan’s No. 8-ranked Dorman team 54-48.
“We play in spurts,” said Davis, a former South Carolina Gamecock great who led Lewisville to a Class A state title last year. “Our kids have got to learn to develop some consistency in their play. The turnovers, the lack of focus, the lack of concentration, if we want to go forward we can’t have that.”
Northwestern (5-2) was scrappy from the onset and things were made much tougher for Dorman (6-1) when standout guard Quantez Brown was ejected from the game in the second quarter. The high-rising 6-foot-4 senior, who has offers from Youngstown State, Gardner-Webb and Radford, was first given a technical foul for allegedly hanging on the rim too long after a steal and flush, but was later disqualified from the game for an apparent flagrant elbow.
“That was a big loss for us,” Ryan said afterward. “It’s kind of unfortunate; two good teams playing, you hate to see a game where you take one of your better players out, especially under the circumstances, kind of questionable.”
Dorman missed its star, but that had no effect on Northwestern’s team concept. Davis’ bunch spread the scoring around, led by junior Malcolm Anthony’s 12, while Ja’Reginald Feely added 11 and Will Chitwood and Manzi Hill had nine each. Beckham chipped in seven for the Trojans. Despite their spotty consistency, Davis is encouraged with the Trojans’ commitment to the team ethic so far.
“I was able to play about nine, 10 guys tonight,” Davis said. “The style we want to play, we want to get up and down and wear people out defensively and it takes nine or 10 guys. I tell them ‘if they ain’t getting tired, then they’re not doing their jobs.’”
Anthony got Northwestern off to a hot start, hitting a trio of 3-pointers in the first few minutes of the game and putting the home team in front 9-4. Dorman quickly tied the game at 9-9, with Brown stuffing home a steal before drawing a technical foul. The early exchange would prove to be a pattern repeated throughout the 32 minutes; Northwestern surged ahead, Dorman reeled the Trojans in, and Davis unleashed the withering scowl that Northwestern players know follows miscues on the court.
The Trojans pulled ahead before halftime after Brown was ejected controversially for an off-the-ball incident. Chitwood hit a 3-pointer from the right corner and then canned a triple with 2 seconds left in the first half to send the Trojans into the changing room on a wave of good feeling with a 34-25 cushion.
But sticking with the surge-slump tendency, Northwestern scored just two points in the third quarter, allowing Ryan’s team back into the contest. Shyheim Scruggs, filling in for Brown, finished in transition with a nice Euro-step move before feeding Nathan Alimagham for another bucket to cut the Trojan lead to one, 36-35, headed to the fourth quarter.
Northwestern started the final period well, extending its lead to eight after Hill stuffed an alley-oop pass off a backdoor cut to make it 45-37. Dorman crawled back into the game in increments, missing several opportunities to take the lead in the last 3 minutes. The Trojans hit five foul shots in the last 120 seconds to ice the game, including two by Feely, who made all eight of his attempts from the charity stripe Friday night. During the same stretch, Dorman missed several good looks at the rim from 3-point range that would have given them late leads.
“A lot of credit goes to Northwestern,” Ryan said. “They made the big plays. We needed to make a shot and we just couldn’t tonight.”
Dorman 15;10;10;13- 48
Northwestern 18;16;2;18- 54
Dorman: Jantzen Raymond 9, Quantez Brown 6, Shyheim Scruggs 2, Ricus Askew 5, Collin Hill 7, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside 7, Carlos Dotson 10, Nathan Alimagham 2. Northwestern: Malcolm Anthony 12, Ja’Reginald Feely 11, Manzi Hill 9, Clenzo Ross 2, Quadarius Fair 4, Quiveon Beckham 7, Will Chitwood 9.
Trojan girls fall short
In what coach John Bramlett called one of the gutsiest performances he’d seen from his teams, Northwestern’s girls fell 58-50 to visiting Dorman in the first game of Friday night’s varsity doubleheader.
Valorie Whiteside’s Cavaliers (6-0) came into the game ranked No. 2 in the state and seven days removed from an 83-46 shellacking of Bramlett’s team in Spartanburg.
But Dorman encountered a Northwestern (4-3) team already showing dramatic signs of improvement. Senior guard Aubriana Thompson carried the Trojans with 21 points, while Courtney Cunningham-Heath added 11, eight of those in the third quarter alone.
The Cavaliers looked set to pull away in the third quarter, going up by as many as 22 points, but Northwestern clawed back into the contest slowly and surely. The hosts finally cut the deficit to single digits when Thompson stepped in front of a lax Dorman handoff and broke away for two points and a 53-45 scoreline with 1:26 left in the contest.
The gap got as narrow as six when Paige Samuelson put back her own miss, and five Thompson got to the rim for an uncontested layup with 31 seconds, and Samuelson hit one of two from the free-throw line after a loose ball foul. But trailing 55-50, the Trojans didn’t score again in the game, with the Cavaliers hitting 3 of 4 from the charity stripe to escape Rock Hill unscathed.
Dorman 14;13;19;12- 58
Northwestern 7;8;18;17- 50
Dorman: Jasmine Rogers 13, Daijah Surratt 2, Taylor Petty 9, Mykell Sims 12, Alexis Johnson 2, Khaila Webb 12. Northwestern: Aubriana Thompson 21, Ieshia Love 5, Paige Samuelson 7, J’Na McKinney 2, Courtney Cunningham-Heath 11, Lauren Reese 4.
Bret McCormick • 803-329-4032; Twitter: @BretJust1T