High School Basketball
Drew’s pressure too much for Northgate lineups
by Chris Goltermann
One after another, Northgate basketball teams had a tough time handling pressure presented by opponents from Drew during a pair of losses in Region 4-AAAAA crossover games on Tuesday at Johnny Brown Gymnasium.
Both home teams had their moments of success, but neither lasted long enough to put forth enough of a challenge against an A-subregion opponent.
Despite scoring the first eight points of the second half, the Lady Vikings struggled on both ends in the second and fourth quarter during a 65-26 loss to a girls lineup from Drew that has yet to lose in region play at 5-0 and 7-2 overall.
Northgate’s boys, meanwhile, traded leads with the Titans seven times in the first quar- ter before turnovers became a factor in a 91-78 loss where the Vikings ran out of time trying to catch up despite posting six of their nine 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Aldrickus Evans had three of the final six treys during an 18-point effort while among three players in double-figures. Daquan Ramey added 15 and senior center Alex Rutherford had 13 in the loss as the Vikings fell to 2-5 overall.
The bulk of points from the Lady Vikings were split between senior Lyric Underwood and juniors Katie Mitchell and Ebonee Echols as the team’s record slipped to 3-4 heading into Friday’s visit to Forest Park in another A-subregion crossover.
For the second time in five days, Northgate’s girls struggled to put together any offense in the second period. Behind four points from sophomore point-guard Jada Hargrove and six from 6-foot-1 senior center Lakha Sims, Drew used a 25-2 run to take control for good in the quarter.
Improving to 3-3 overall, Drew’s boys needed strong efforts in both the second and third in order to hold off North- gate after trailing by as many as three in the first eight minutes of play.
The Vikings were their own worst enemy despite rallying back late behind their long-distance shooting led by Evans, who hit 13 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. After closing to within four points with 1:32 left in the second period following two consecutive free throws by the 6-foot-5 Rutherford, Northgate unraveled as the Titans converted six unan- swered points off turnovers to take a 41-31 lead into halftime.
The visitors opened the third quarter on an 13-1 run and eventually pushed a 63-38 advan- tage following an offensive rebound by Maleek Taylor and a jumper from Donya Vaughn off a Viking turnover.
It was an identical scenario to how the Vikings ended the opening period while unable to break Drew’s press. Tied 14-14, Northgate struggled to get the ball over the timeline while watching Drew convert back-to-back turnovers on layups by Damarco Smith and Forest Redd.
Yet a seven-point outburst capped off by Luke Madden’s 3-pointer pulled Northgate back to within a 32-27 deficit and it continued to whittle fur- ther after the Vikings hit 5 of 6 attempts from the line includ- ing Rutherford’s pair while continuing to battle inside the paint.
A final four-point deficit was as close as Northgate’s boys got the rest of the way as Taylor took control of the third period with 11 of his 15 points while among five Titan players in double figures. James Ruiz and Damarco Smith also had 15 points apiece for Drew while Bryson Duckworth and Jesse Ellis each finished with 10.
The Titans equally did enough damage from the free- throw line, connecting on 22 of 38 attempts including 6 of 8 in the third quarter.
DREW 65, NORTHGATE 26: Even when at their best, the Lady Vikings found themselves smothered by a tenacious full-court press by the Lady Titans, who presented as many problems in the paint from senior post-player Lakaiya Sims.
Sims and sophomore guard Jayda Hardgrove led a 25-2 second-quarter run to take command while taking a 44-12 lead into halftime.
But Northgate played its toughest basketball to open the third with eight unanswered points starting with a jumper by Katie Mitchell and a feed from Rose Barrera to Amber Radda.
Ebonee Echols added a three pointer and then converted 1 of 2 free throws to close to within a 44-20 deficit only to see Drew outscore the Lady Vikings 14-2 over the final 5:15 of the quarter.