NORTH AUGUSTA -- The Northwestern Trojans faced a tough task as they headed to North Augusta to take on the Yellow Jackets in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs. Despite playing the top seed on its home court, the Trojans went toe-to-toe with North Augusta before finally falling 52-43.
If not for a six-minute stretch at the beginning of the second half, the Trojans might have mustered enough offense to pull the upset.
Northwestern led the Yellow Jackets 21-17 at the half after a Labris Adams drive and bucket and two free throws from point guard Zach Beaver.
The game's pace favored the Trojans early, but when North Augusta's halftime adjustments included pushing the ball up court quicker and pressing Northwestern, the Trojans took a few minutes to adjust.
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Unfortunately for Northwestern (14-11), that was all the Yellow Jackets needed to build a working margin from which the Trojans were not able to recover.
Northwestern missed its first 11 shots in the second half, was whistled for six fouls and committed four turnovers over the first five-plus minutes of the quarter. The Trojans had several good looks, but had many shots that simply rolled off of the rim.
North Augusta (22-4) scored the first nine points in the third quarter and led by five points before Adams finally knocked down a 10-foot jumper for Northwestern with 2:33 remaining, stopping the streak.
Nigel Dixon added a big 3-pointer a minute later. The trey marked Dixon's only points of the night, but the shot showed the home-town crowd that the Trojans were not going to back down.
Trailing 30-26 going into the fourth quarter, the Trojans took the lead after a Will King 3-pointer and an old-fashioned three-point play by Taylor Shugart completed a 6-1 run that opened the period.
All-state player Bryan Narcisse drove past the Trojans' defense and quickly gave the lead back to the Jackets. It was a lead North Augusta would not relinquish, despite a couple of big shots by Northwestern down the stretch.
Narcisse ended the game with a team-high 15 points, and made the difference down the stretch as the Trojans failed to stop his drives late in the game.
The Trojans trailed by just three points with 2:14 left after Beaver hit two clutch foul shots. Northwestern coach Mike Gossett called a timeout to set up a full-court press, but North Augusta found a streaking Brett Johnson behind the Trojan defense.
"This was a hard-fought game in a very tough venue," said Gossett. "I am proud as I can be for this team."
Class AAAA boys
North Augusta 52, Northwestern 43
Wren 65, South Pointe 43
Class A boys
Greenville Tech at Great Falls, 7 p.m.
Lewisville at Dixie, 7 p.m.
Class AAAA girls
South Pointe at Spartanburg, 7 p.m.
CLASS AAA BOYS
Travelers Rest at Chester, 7 p.m.
CLASS A GIRLS
Hunter-Kinard-Tyler at Great Falls, 7 p.m.
-- For more, see 5D