High School Basketball
Lady Indians, Vikings take unique paths to victory
by Doug Gorman
A non-region, cross-county clash on the basketball court Saturday between Northgate and East Coweta at John Thrower Gym saw the host Lady Indians snap a six-game losing streak and the Vikings continue a four-game surge in a doubleheader split.
But each took a unique path to victory.
Northgate’s boys were forced to battle back from a five point deficit in the first quarter, with 6-5 center Alex Rutherford taking advantage against an undersized Indians lineup en route to a game-high 21 points.
East Coweta’s girls, meanwhile, led from start to finish, but had to put together a 6-1 run over the final minute to hold off a Lady Vikings team that hung in thanks to eight 3-pointers with teams trading heroics.
Northgate’s Rose Barrera connected on four 3-pointers in the second half and two in the fourth quarter, the latter of which trimmed the Lady Indians’ deficit to 48-46.
East Coweta duo Quentina Roberts and Eboni Williams, however, combined for eight free-throws in the fourth quarter to finally shake off the Northgate comeback attempts.
“We have sometimes been our own worst enemy,” East Coweta head coach Jared Waggoner said. “It was good to come out of here with a win. We had to find a way to end that losing streak.
East Coweta built a 23-15 lead at the break, holding the Lady Vikings to just four shots from the field.
Williams had the hot hand early for the Lady Indians scoring nine points in the first quarter has they took a 15-6 lead. But Northgate’s Katie Mitchell connected on two 3-point shots in the first half to kept her team’s deficit in single digits.
Both teams placed two players each in double figures as Roberts led East Coweta with 18 points and Williams adding 16.
Northgate junior guard Ebonee Echols finished the contest with 15 points for the Lady Vikings while Barrera scored all 14 of hers after halftime. Mitchell added nine on three 3-pointers.
Northgate 48, East Coweta 44 (boys): Northgate and East Coweta had trouble converting shots heading into the final quarter, but in the end, it took a couple of clutch free throws by a player who had been quit most of the night for the Vikings to sneak out of John Thrower Memorial Gym with its third straight win heading into Tuesday’s trip to McIntosh with hopes of revenge following a 79-50 loss at home on Jan. 3.
Northgate (8-9) was coming off Friday’s 59-54 non-region victory at Our Lady of Mercy.
Scoreless until stepping to the line in the final seconds of Saturday’s game, Viking Aldreckus Evans calmly sank both of his free throws to secure the 48-44 win over East Coweta.
“This was really big,” said Northgate head coach Maurice Smith. “We were able to hold off their rally attempt and get out of here with a win. We just need to continue that momentum against McIntosh.”
Northgate extended the lead to 10-points twice in the fourth quarter when junior Wendell Watson hit a shot from the outside and 6-5 center Alex Rutherford delivered a dunk. Both players led the Viking scoring, with Rutherford putting together a game-high 21 and Watson posting 13.
But after Rutherford’s basket gave Northgate a 43-33 lead, the Indians rallied back outscoring the Vikings 11-4 down the stretch.
Jeremy Farmer nearly brought the Indians back on his own by scoring 11 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, including a 3-point shot.
Farmer cut the lead down to 44-42 late in the final quarter, but it was as close as the Indians got.
LADY INDIANS 54, LADY VIKINGS 47
NORTHGATE (7-11) 6 9 19 13—47
EAST COWETA (7-8) 15 8 12 19—54
Northgate—Echols 15, Barrera 14, Mitchell 9, Radda 6, Wells 3.
East Coweta — Roberts 18, E. Williams 16, Hall 9, Pettaway 6, Bollinger 3, A. Williams 1, Freeman 1.
VIKINGS 48, INDIANS 44
NORTHGATE (8-9) 5 15 10 18—48
EAST COWETA (2-14) 10 8 9 17—44
Northgate— Rutherford 21, Watson 13, Robinson 6, Ramey 3, Evans 2, Madden 2, McGruder 1.
East Coweta—Farmer 18, Tyson 9, Walker 6, Powell 5, Mitchell 4, Jervey 3, Ransom 2.