Prep Basketball: Northgate Vikings stave off elimination

MCDONOUGH — Northgate head boys basketball coach Mack Cain might be retiring, but he’s not ready to pack it in just yet.
Tray Stargell’s driving layup with one second remaining broke a final deadlock in a back-and-forth game that ended with the Vikings on top 46-44 against Mundy’s Mill to advance in the Region 4-AAAAA tournament, hosted by Ola High.
“I didn’t mean to act like this was my first birthday,” said Cain following a raucous celebration, “But I was just so happy for our kids. We have lost so many game likes this, it is good to finally win one.”
The effort puts Northgate one more victory from earning the program’s first state tournament berth in 15 years. The Vikings, however, will need to beat 4B-AAAAA subregion champion McIntosh (17-7) on Monday at 7 p.m., also at Ola.
Northgate’s boys fell behind 11-0 but rallied to lead by one to open the fourth quarter.
The Vikings got a break in the closing 12 seconds when Mundy’s Mill was called for a travel. That set up Stargell, who drove the lane and put up an attempt that circled the rim before dropping through.
Luke Motzel led Northgate’s win with 12 points. Deonte Ross led all scorers with 17 for the Tigers.
It was a happier ending for Northgate after watching the Lady Vikings’ season come to a close — also playing Mundy’s Mill in its tournament opener.

Lady Tiger Moe Dyer polished off a 17-point effort by sinking 1 of 2 free throws with two seconds left to close a 36-34 victory.

“I thought we really grew up tonight,” said Lady Vikings head coach Matt Trucks, whose team finished 5-17. “One of the things we talked about was working hard in the summer. Hopefully we can pick up some players and come back stronger next year.”

For a while it looked as if the Vikings were also headed for an early exit.

Despite Northgate battling back from a 11-0 deficit, Mundy’s Mill stole the momentum early in the second half by holding the Vikings to just five points in the third quarter.

Northgate's only baskets came on a 3-point and a layup from Motzel as the Vikings led 37-36 at the end of the the third period.

The Lady Vikings, meanwhile, didn’t go down without a fight.

Trailing at one time 33-28, Katie Mitchell’s basket cut the lead to 33-30.

Twice down the stretch, the Lady Vikings cut the lead to one point. Ebonee Echols basket trimmed the Lady Tigers lead to 33-32 and Taylor Kidner’s shot trimmed the Mundy’s Mill lead to 35-34. Kidner’s basket were the Lady Vikings final points.

Northgate closed out its season paced by Katie Mitchell’s 13 points. Mitchell finished the game with three 3-point shots.

Northgate and Mundy’s Mill found themselves in a first-half tussle with the Lady Tigers clinging to a 19-17 lead at the break.

Mitchell kept the Lady Vikings in it by hitting two 3-point shots in the first half. Her back-to-back baskets in the first quarter, including her first trey, gave the Lady Vikings a 10-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Lady Tigers tried to build some momentum late in the second quarter after taking a 17-12 lead on a basket by Khadijah Page, but Northgate managed to battle back with a 7-2 run.

Rose Barrera’s basket with under a minute to go tied the game at 19-all before Mundy Mill added a basket to go up 21-19 at the half.

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