Prep Basketball: Northgate boys let another one get away

Special to The Newnan Times-Herald
The Northgate boys basketball team can add another story to its repertoire of tales about Region 4B-AAAAA games that got away during the 2012-13 season.
A pair of late turnovers squashed a ferocious second half comeback by the Vikings which was powered by precision three-point shooting and a huge presence under the boards only to fall short 51-44 Friday at Starr’s Mill.
The loss left Northgate at 3-11 in region play as the No. 5 seed in the subregion, while 6-15 overall.
“We’ve had a lot of those this year,” head coach Mack Cain said. “They kids played hard but not with a lot of energy in the first half. Overall, they did some good stuff.”
Wendall Watson led the scoring for the Vikings with 12 points. Aldrecus Evans added nine on three three-pointers. Luke Motzel and big man Adrian Tolbert added 6 points apiece.
David Watson led Starr’s Mill scorers with 14 points on the night. Will Anda, Ryan Nace and Evan Woods all added 9 points.
“In the first half I told the kids, we were shooting threes, but we were not taking good shots,” Cain said. “You’ve got to make threes with (Starr’s Mill) to get their defense to come out.”

The two squads combined for 15 three-pointers on the night, nine by the Vikings who rallied back from a 10-point halftime deficit. That added to Adrian Tolbert’s presence inside kept the Panthers from pulling away.

“Adrian had a great game,” Cain said. “He had a lot of blocks and a lot of rebounds. He’s a vastly improved player and has had a lot of good games this year. Tonight was one of those.

Trailing 28-18 at the break, four points from Wendall Watson and another four by Tolbert — including a thundering dunk at the three-minute mark — cut the Starr’s Mill lead. Another long three by Watson kept the Vikings within a 38-33 margin heading into the final period.

The fourth quarter was a back and forth battle with the slight edge in Northgate’s favor. With 2:54 to play, Motzel pulled up and drained a three making it a one possession game 44-41. Starr’s Mill netted the next two buckets, making it 48-41. But unfazed by the opposition’s success, Evans nailed the final of his three-pointers making it 48-44. After holding the Panthers to just one point on their next three possessions in the final minute, the Vikings turned the ball over twice in key situations to allow the Panthers the win.

“A lot of that is inexperience,” Cain said. “Not knowing what to do in situations hurt us and has a couple times at the end of games.”

The Vikings will celebrate Senior Night today while also honoring Cain, who is retiring at the end of the 2012-13 season. The Region 4-AAAAA tournament begins a week from today.

“Hopefully the kids with be fired up,” he said. “We won’t know who we will play until Wednesday. That will give us some time to work on us.”

GIRLS – Starr's Mill 57, Northgate 19
The Lady Vikings hung tough in the first half, but struggled to find the basket while scoring just four points over the final two periods.

Sophomore Katie Mitchell led Northgate (6-15) with 15 points and Rose Barrera netted the other four while closing the region schedule at 3-11 in fifth place.

Danielle Garcia paced Starr’s Mill (15-8, 10-3) with 11 points to lead a balanced scoring attack for the Lady Panthers. Arianna Mendola added 9.

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