NCS downs Pine in district opener

Published 8:16 am Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Northlake Christian School’s Matt Miller registered a season high 24 points and Dane Landry contributed 17 Friday night, leading the Wolverines to a convincing 74-49 district opening victory over visiting Pine, despite the Raiders’ Cody Cooper draining eight 3-pointers.

NCS (11-5 at press time) set the early tone, racing out to a 23-14 first-quarter lead. Landry had a hot hand dropping in eight points, including two 3-pointers, and went 3-of-3 from behind the 3-point arc, while adding four rebounds and three assists.

Miller, who also distributed four assists with four steals, netted seven points in the opening period to get the Wolverines off to a fast start as they jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

NCS point guard TK Keiffer hit the opening basket assisted by Landry, and Miller followed with a hoop to make it 4-0.

Pine missed two free throws, and Landry followed with his first trey to push it to a 7-0 lead with 6:28 on the clock.

Pine’s Devonte Pigott, who helped keep the Raiders in it with a double-double, scoring 15 points with 16 rebounds, three blocks and three steals, put the Raiders on the board with 6:06 left in the opening quarter. Following a NCS miss, Cody Cooper drained his initial 3-pointer to cut the margin to 7-5 with 5:24 remaining.

Miller worked himself free inside and scored assisted by Josh O’Rear on an inbounds pass and was fouled. He made the free throw for a 10-5 lead.

With NCS holding a 12-9 lead, the Wolverines reeled off seven straight points for a 19-9 lead before Pigott stopped the run with a basket and 2:40 left in the opening period.

Pine’s Cooper cashed in on his second 3-pointer to cut the lead to 21-14. Keiffer hit a basket to give NCS a 23-14 first-quarter advantage.

Both teams scored 13 second-quarter points, which gave NCS a 36-27 halftime margin.

Pigott kept the Raiders in it with seven second-quarter points, while Cooper knocked down a 3-ball as did his cousin, Hunter Cooper.

NCS’ O’Rear came up big with a double-double, dropping in 10 points with a team-high 11 rebounds. Riley Risher also did the dirty work inside for the Wolverines finishing with nine points, five rebounds and four assists. Keiffer chipped in with eight points including six in the first quarter to help NCS establish the pace running the Wolverines’ offense.

Pine’s Trent Ard delivered four first-quarter points to go with 10 rebounds, while Derrick Dillon added five points with eight rebounds and four steals for the Raiders.

Cody Cooper said it was good hitting from outside, but he would much rather have gotten a team victory. He credited his teammates with doing a good job getting him the ball.

“My teammates know that if I’m hot they’ll give the ball to me. At the beginning of the season, we were scoring in the 60’s, but lately we have been struggling. We’ll get one guy going offensively, but then we can’t get the rest of the team going,” he said.

“We have young talent. I know if we can get it all together we’ll be tough because we have the talent. We have a lot of youngsters with two tenth grade starters and young guys coming off the bench.

“Northlake always kills us when we play them at their place. I don’t know what it is about this place. They shoot it good here, and the atmosphere is pretty good for them. They run their offense the right way with good screens. You don’t even want to play anymore when you get done playing against them. NCS is well coached and play tough defense,” Cooper said.

Pine coach Landon Thomas said Cooper kept his team in it hitting his shots and also credited Pigott with playing a solid ball game being active inside.

Thomas echoed his junior guard’s comments reference Northlake.

“This is a tough place for us to play, and our record against them shows that. Northlake shot the ball great, and they finished plays around the rim. When you do that in bunches the score starts to get away from you after awhile,” Thomas said.