NEW PARIS — National Trail and Tri-County North faced off on the hardwood in a Cross County Conference match-up on Friday, Dec. 11.
North was able to hit a last second layup to pull them ahead after trailing for most of the game, giving them the 64-62 victory over the Blazers.
“I thought our players did a nice job battling back after a rough start. We didn’t get down and kept fighting. I give Trail and their coach credit for playing hard and hitting shots. Every time we’d get close or tie it, they’d hit a couple buckets to keep the lead,” said North head coach Dale Spitler, Jr.
The Panther’s Zach Edgin was able to expose a mix-up in Trail’s defensive match-up as he found Gabe Brinson for the wide opened layup and the game-winner at the end.
“We committed a lot of fouls that allowed North to stay in the game in the first half. In the second half we did not get stops with near the efficiency we needed to and North fought hard to get back in the game,” said Trail head coach Mike Harrison. “It was extremely heartbreaking but a lot of positives to come out of it as well.”
At the end of the first, the Blazers jumped out to a 10 point lead, heading into the second up 18-10. North slowly chipped away at the lead for the rest of the game, heading into halftime only down five.
The Panthers continued to outscore Trail in the third, winning the period 19-17 and cutting the lead to three before the comeback.
For Trail, Kaleb Deardorff led the team with 12 points and 15 rebounds while Jacob Hurd led in scoring with 14 points. Peyton Harrison added 11 points and seven rebounds while Travis Hunt chipped in with five assists and five steals.
For North, Kurt Brinson led all scorers with 23 points while Gabe Brinson and Garrett Woodyard both had 15 apiece. Zach Edgin chipped in eight points as well.
North also faced off against Franklin earlier in the week, falling 60-44.
Their next game is at Miami East on Friday, Dec. 18 at 6:30 p.m. before hosting Brookville on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 6 p.m.
Trail turned around the next day and played Madison, losing 60-49.
“We played like a team that had suffered an emotional defeat the night before and didn’t have much gas in the tank,” said Harrison. “We didn’t quite have the energy level we did the night before. We are getting better little by little, but we have to find a way to take care of the ball better and get some stops at the defensive end to take the next step that we want to take.”
They were led by Harrison with nine points and 11 rebounds while Deardorff had 10 rebounds on the day.
The Blazers were scheduled to host Middletown Madison on Tuesday, Dec. 15 and will also host Centerville (Ind.) on Saturday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Gabe Brinson scored 25 points, but it was not enough as Tri-County North fell to Dixie, 59-54, on Friday, Dec. 4, in the Panthers’ second game of the season.
The game started out well for first-year head coach Dale Spitler Jr., as his team jumped out to an early lead behind Brinson’s hot shooting and the Panthers quickly found themselves with an early 9-3 lead over the host team.
Brinson continued to score well in the second quarter — he was responsible for 18 of the Panthers’ first 23 points in the game.
“Of course he transferred from Dixie a couple of years ago, so it was a big night for him and his brother, “ Spitler Jr. said of his sophomore. “It was only his second career start and he hit some good shots for us.”
Dixie however found answers to the Panther offense by quickly switching to a zone defense.
Point guard Devin Worley got the Greyhound offense going in the second quarter as he found Joey Gengler for three threes in the second quarter.
The Greyhounds took the lead on one of his three threes in the quarter, to make the score 26-23 and the Panthers struggled to regain the lead against the zone defense the rest of the way.
The Panthers were never able to grab the lead in the second half, as the Greyhounds led 30-28 at the half.
The Greyhounds remained in the zone for the rest of the game and the Panthers were unable to shoot them out of it, according to Spitler. “Our man plays worked really well, our inside and man plays are a little ahead of outside stuff right now to be honest — we hit a few outside shots but just not enough to get them to switch it up.”
The Panthers found themselves in a hole heading into the fourth and Dixie controlled the game for the reminder of the quarter until Zach Edgin hit a three to cut the lead to four with just over 30 seconds left.
The Greyhounds, however, sealed the game by hitting free-throws at the end before a final score of 59-54 was reached.
Brinson led the team with 25 points and added 10 rebounds to complete the double-double. His brother Kurt Brinson also pitched in a double-double as he scored 12 and recorded 12 rebounds.
Edgin added 13 points and six assists.
As a team, the Panthers shot just 18-58 for just over 30 percent and shot 6-19 from three.
Spitler was happy with his team’s effort, but feels they just missed too many easy shots. “I thought we rebounded the ball decent, we battled, we competed, we were right there — but we missed a lot of easy shots and gave up a few I’d like to have back — so we have to work on those things.”
Jeremy can be reached at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.