Published Saturday, December 01, 2012

Prep basketball: Northgate teams battle learning curve, injuries

By CHRIS GIROUARD

Special to The Newnan Times-Herald

The early part of the 2012-13 basketball season has been anything but smooth for young Northgate lineups, both of which struggled against Mundy’s Mill in Region 4-AAAAA home openers on Friday.

Against a tough trapping defense, the Vikings hung tough for two quarters but had a tough time keeping up in a 54-42 loss.

Meanwhile, a Lady Vikings team still minus point guard Katie Mitchell, lost two more starters to injury in a 41-17 loss. By the time the game ended, head coach Matt Trucks was also without starter Rose Barrera and key bench contributor Alexis Sutton, both of whom went down in the second half.

“We have eight kids now and three starters are out,” said Trucks, whose girls are scheduled for a non-region game at Pike County this afternoon while now at 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the region. “We had two kids knock knees tonight and we have a game tomorrow.”

(To view photos from both games, please visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Sports / Basketball for the Photo Gallery.)

For Northgate, games may have been indicative of grinding, physical play in a new region that now includes programs from Clayton County. Mundy's Mill's boys entered at 1-2 overall, but were also coming off a 21-7 season.

“It was a physical game,” said Northgate head coach Mack Cain, whose team fell to 0-3 and 0-2 in region play. “And I think that our kids, for 2 1/2 quarters matched their physicality.”Darrius Sizemore led a pair of Tigers players in double-figures with 15 points. Teammate Johnathon Celestine added 11 while Deonte Ross and Darius Wheeler added 6 apiece.

Meanwhile, only four Northgate players made the scoresheet led by junior Torres Johnson's game-high 21. All nine of Trey Stargill's points came in the fourth quarter to close the game. Aldrecus Evans netted 7 before leaving the game late in the going with leg cramps. Adrian Tolbert added five points as the Vikings fell to 0-3 on the season.

“We’ve only got one kid back off of last year’s team (Johnson) that played any,” Cain said. “We are young and inexperienced and we’ve got to get better.”

Even with its inexperience, Northgate ended the first quarter trailing just 9-6, but as it progress, a press from Mundy's Mill began to push the lead forward to 27-20 at halftime.

“We’ve turned the ball over in our last three games enough to make a whole season,” Cain said. “We are so inexperienced we have got to use these games as practices. As the season moves on we will get better.”

A 27-20 halftime lead for Mundy’s Mill grew to a 44-31 edge after three as Northgate’s’ offensive woes continued.

“Our defense is not bad,” Cain said. “Our offense has got to come around when we play a team like tonight. They trapped all over the place. We called zero offensive plays because of their defense. We’ve got to make jump shots. We had two kids make jump shots. “

Despite the loss, Cain knows it's still early in the season.

“We aren’t happy with 0-3, but nothing we are doing we can’t get better at.”

Already shorthanded, Northgate's girls also stayed within range by halftime, trailing 18-8.

“We were playing freshmen and sophomores who had never seen a varsity game,” Trucks said. “For them to not quit or give up...I’m pleased with our effort tonight. Regardless of what the scoreboard said, the effort tonight is what I needed to see from them.”

The third quarter was all Mundy’s Mill as the Lady Tigers used a 19-2 run to pull away.

Sutton and Alexis Huling led the way for the Lady Vikings (2-3) with 5 points apiece. Ebonee Echols added 4 for Northgate. Kelsey Arnold had 10 points to lead the way for Mundy’s Mill (2-2). Moe Dyer added 8.

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