BRADFORD — Both Bradford and Tri-County North’s boys’ basketball teams have struggled this season, but both teams laid it on the line on Friday, Feb. 10.
Each team still has a chance to move up in the league standings — and both teams are playing for pride. Fans were treated to a game with several lead changes and ties as the two teams battled on the hardwood with North coming away with a 59-49 win.
The teams had contrasting offensive styles in which North seemed determined to drive the ball into the teeth of Bradford defense while Bradford got the most traction with the 3-point shot — nailing 10 treys on the night.
Serving up seven of the treys for the Railroader cause was Parker Smith, who made some of his shots at critical times. Near the end of the third quarter, North had gone on a little run to open a double-digit lead. But Parker Smith hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close the gap and keep the game close.
Tri-County North coach Joe Smith later admitted he assigned four players to guard Smith during the night, but Smith still finished the game with 21 points despite the extra attention.
The first quarter was back and forth and fittingly ended in a 12-all tie.
North opened a narrow lead in the second quarter, and the ‘Roaders did not help their cause when it turned the ball over on consecutive possessions at the end the quarter. This was after Alex Swabb had earlier tied the game up at 22 midway through the quarter. The steals allowed North to pad its lead and enter the half up 33-25.
But Bradford battled even in the third quarter.
And in the last quarter it looked like the Railroaders might surge past the Panthers. Smith hit a shot to tie the game at 44 early in the quarter. And Josh Phillips next hit a free throw to briefly give Bradford the lead.
The hometown crowd was very vocal at this point.
But North’s Gabe Brinson hit his only trey on the night to give North a lead that it would not relinquish. Bradford kept it close, but in the last two minutes the Railroaders had to begin fouling and the Panthers were impressive from the stripe — scoring eight of their 15 fourth quarter points from the foul line.
Zach Edgin and Brian Stinson led Tri-County North with 15 points each and Brinson added 14.
On Tuesday, North played tough against visiting Franklin-Monroe for three of the four quarters, in a 57-44 loss. The difference in the game was the third quarter, when North was outscored 24-4.
Brinson led North with 21 points, while Fry added nine.