Northeastern knocks off Randleman in first round
By Mike Wood
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
After winning the Northeastern Coastal Conference regular season and tournament championships, the Northeastern High School boys basketball team continued their momentum into the state playoffs.
At just the right time, they may be playing their best team basketball of the season. On Tuesday night in their home gym, the Eagles defeated Randleman High School 51-34 in a first round game of the North Carolina 2A State Basketball Championships.
It wasn't as easy as the final score might indicate.
After a four hour bus ride, the Tigers came out strong and showed that they were ready to play. Randleman, with their deliberate style of play jumped out to a 7-2 lead. It wasn't until the 2:45 mark of the first quarter that Northeastern grabbed their first lead of the game on a 3-pointer by Clifford Shaw. Back to back threes by Damar Sutton would enable the Eagles to take control and close out the first break with the score at 14-7.
"We knew that we had to adjust to their game. They have a fundamentally sound offense. They move the ball around and they don't take bad shots. When we switched to a 2-3 matchup zone it improved our defense and allowed us to get our transition game going, " said Northeastern coach Ronald Nixon. "They are a well coached team and we had to work hard for all of our shots."
Indeed, Randleman went to the finals of the Piedmont Athletic Conference tournament, and won 13 games while averaging only 52 points scored per game.
They play tough man-to-man defense, and an 8-2 run by the Tigers in the second period got them to within one point at 16-15. However, the Eagles countered with eight consecutive points, the last two on a strong drive to the basket by Garfield Brown. The half ended with Northeastern leading 27-17.
Northeastern maintained the ten point advantage past the midpoint of the third quarter, but then a series of exceptional plays by guard Clifford Shaw pushed the lead to 37-22 at the final break. The senior scored on a hard drive to the hoop.
Then he stole the ball at midcourt, and was fouled on the breakaway. Shaw made both free throws and the Eagles finally had a comfortable margin.
Shaw was a consistent performer all night for Northeastern.
He scored in every quarter for a total of 12 points, which included two three-pointers in the first half, and he was always in the middle of the fast break.
"That is my favorite part of the game," said Shaw. "When we can rebound well and get out and use our speed, we can score quickly. The coach made a great call switching us to the zone. We increased the pressure on defense, got some stops, and that will always help to get the offense going."
In the fourth quarter the Eagles worked the clock. Brian Jones scored five straight points which pushed to score to 44-22, the largest lead of the night, and the Northeastern ball control closed out the game.
The Eagles Damar Sutton was again outstanding in all phases. He was high scorer with 16 points and also collected six rebounds. Jones had a total of eight points, and Dallas Hall, strong inside, chipped in with five points.