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North Cross suffers its third loss to the Chiefs this season, and a fourth game is possible.
DON PETERSEN | Special to The Roanoke Times
Carlisle’s Thon Maker (14) led the Chiefs with 20 points, including all four of his free throw attempts.
Don Petersen | Special to The Roanoke Times
North Cross’s Keith Oddo (1) drives against Carlisle’s Erick Johnson in the championship game in Salem. Oddo finished with nine points Saturday.
Don Petersen | Special to The Roanoke Times
North Cross’s Peter Agba (right) fights for a rebound against Carlisle’s Thon Maker (left). The 6-foot-11 Maker owned the boards Saturday for the Chiefs, who beat North Cross to win the VIC Division II tournament championship.
Sunday, February 24, 2013
The North Cross Raiders met their Maker for the third time this season, but — as in previous confrontations — they didn’t go down without a fight.
Led by 20 points from 6-foot-11 freshman Thon Maker, Carlisle (22-1) edged North Cross 44-41 to capture the VIC Division II tournament championship played at Roanoke College on Saturday afternoon.
Jerry Spangler, commissioner of the Western Virginia Basketball Officials Association, watched Maker’s performance from the bleachers. “[Maker’s] the best [high school] freshman in the country, in my opinion,” Spangler said.
Maker hit 7-of-9 field goal attempts, made all four of his free throws, owned the boards and altered numerous North Cross shots.
But with the North Cross defense limiting his touches down the stretch and holding him scoreless in the fourth quarter, Maker received some critical assistance from a secondary source, Chiefs junior guard Malcolm N’diaye.
N’diaye’s five points came in the game’s last two minutes and were his team’s only points in the game’s last five — but they were enough. N’diaye hit a 3-pointer to expand Carlisle’s lead to four points (42-38) with 1:57 remaining.
After North Cross Tay Calloway countered with a trey of his own at the :47 mark to close Carlisle’s lead to 42-41, Carlisle ran down the clock and called its last timeout. On the inbounds play N’diaye slipped behind the Raiders’ defense, and his layup increased Carlisle’s lead to three points with :14 on the clock.
Needing a 3-pointer to force overtime, North Cross was unable to get off a final shot.
“They thought we were going to run out the clock,” said N’diaye, explaining how he got loose for the game’s final basket. “They didn’t think we would try to score. Still I was surprised to have an easy shot.”
“It’s a play we run quite a bit,” said Carlisle first-year coach Jason Niblett. Carlisle’s Kevin Cuesta located N’diaye coming off a screen for the layup.
Carlisle beat North Cross twice in the regular season, by three points Jan. 3 in Martinsville and by 12 points Feb. 9 on the Raiders’ court. Some of the Chiefs were making the “O-K sign” as they left the floor Saturday, holding up three fingers to signify their wins in the season series, simultaneously making an “0” to represent the number of North Cross victories.
As the state tournament unfolds this coming week, it’s conceivable the teams could meet for a fourth time this season. Pairings have yet to be announced.
Both Niblett and North Cross coach Bill Hodges recognized Saturday’s game was in doubt until the buzzer. Neither team led by more than five points.
Even with Maker hitting his first four shots of the game, two of them coming behind the 3-point arc, the game was tied at 14 after the first quarter. North Cross didn’t attempt to take the ball inside against Maker, but connected on 4-of-12 shots beyond the 3-point arc.
“That’s the only way you can beat them,” Hodges said, referring to Maker’s domination in the lane. “And any time you hold [Maker] to 20 points, you’re doing all right.”
Calloway hit back-to-back baskets to give North Cross leads of 21-16 and 23-18 midway through the second quarter. But then Eric Johnson scored most of his 11 second-period points in succession to give Carlisle a 27-25 advantage at intermission.
Bennett Holley and Peter Agba, the top two scorers for North Cross this season, combined to score just one point in the second half and were limited to six total shots from the field after halftime.
“No. 25 [Yesid Mosquera] played me pretty tight,” said Holley, who finished with 11 points.
North Cross remained close thanks to Calloway’s team-leading 15 points.
“We followed our game plan,” said Hodges. “We had them where we wanted them. We just had brain freeze at the end.”
“I credit North Cross with making it such a close game,” Niblett said. “They played really good defense on us.”
Maker was named VIC Division II player of the year while Roanoke Catholic’s Leon Caldwell was named coach of the year.
NORTH CROSS (19-6)
Oddo 3 2-2 9, Doughty 2 0-0 4, Holley 3 3-4 11, Calloway 6 0-1 15, Agba 1 0-0 2, Smith 0 0-0 0, Lowery 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 5-7 41.
Johnson 4 6-7 14, N’diaye 2 0-0 5, Hamlet 0 0-0 0, Cuesta 1 1-4 3, Maker 7 4-4 20, Mosquera 1 0-0 2, Dickerson 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 11-15 44.
North Cross 14 11 11 5 – 41
Carlisle 14 13 10 7 – 44
3-point goals –North Cross 6 (Calloway 3, Holley 2, Oddo), Carlisle 3 (Maker 2, N’diaye 1). Total fouls –North Cross 13, Carlisle 9. Fouled out – none. Body Type here.
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