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NC adjusts in time for 48-39 win

Posted: December 12, 2013 2:46 p.m.
Updated: December 13, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Andy Johnson just smiled when asked about the halftime adjustments which he made when he got his North Central basketball team inside the locker room at halftime of Wednesday’s game at Lugoff-Elgin.
The Knight squad which Johnson led off the court at the break of a game tied at 20 was a far different one from that which headed home with a 48-39 victory over the host Demons.
In a first 16 minutes in which NC hurt itself with a series of turnovers against the L-E’s zone defensive scheme, the Knights turned things around after intermission. Rather than being passive on offense, the guests attacked holes in the zone and scored each of their 12 second half baskets from inside of eight feet with four of those buckets coming via second- or third-chance shots.
So, how exactly did the Knights turn things around? Johnson, whose team hosts L-E on Monday night, was not about to slip-up by telling anyone complete details as to the changes.
“We changed a little bit of spacing that we did out there,” he said. “I thought our guys did a better job of moving the basketball against their zone in the second half.
“We knew after the first half that they were going to pack it in there and make us hit some shots from the outside.”
Led by 20 points from 6-foot-4 senior center Kawan Hough and 11 more from Banyon Sullivan, the Knights won the battle of the scoreboard, not to mention underneath the boards as well as in other non-statistical categories said first-year L-E head coach Garrett Knight.
“They were just out-hustling us,” said Knight whose team was led by 11 points from junior forward Keyshawn Martin.
“They got some easy layups. We were trying to press them, but we weren’t getting back and covering our spots. We got kind of lazy there at the end of the ballgame and the final score reflected that.”
After a sluggish first half, NC went on the offensive to open the second and broke from the gates with a 6-0 run starting with a Hough putback and a short jumper which wrapped around an Omar Johnson pull-up jumper from the paint area to give the visitors a 26-20 cushion. The Demons used a putback of their own from guard Kevin Fields only to see the Knights get a baseline drive from William Jenkins to push their lead to 30-22 with 3:20 left in the third.
Martin kept the Demons close by burying a 3-ball and going in for a layup following a steal to trim the lead to 30-27. The final basket of the quarter came on a Hough dunk with ging NC a 32-27 cushion after three quarters.
Knight said his team was its own worst enemy in the second half.
“We started turning the ball over and making mistakes,” he said. “We had chances to get rebounds but the ball slid off our hands. Then, they would get it and put it back up. Those little things added up to where it got to the point where we couldn’t catch them.”
If the Demons thought they had troubles in the third quarter, things would get progressively worse in the final eight minutes.
In a series which typified L-E’s second half problems, Sullivan scored on a drive and was fouled in the first 30 seconds of the fourth quarter. After missing the free throw, the NC forward got the ball back and banked home a 10-foot jumper, on which he was again fouled. This time, Sullivan made the freebie to put the Knights on top by twin figures at 37-27.
The Demons battled with inconsistency on the offensive end but used a Martin trey and a 15-foot jumper from Aldrecio Wells. Hough, though, was too tough to tame inside as he scored on a pair of putbacks and two free throws. Two Sullivan layins, coming 12 seconds apart, all but put this one out of reach as the lead grew to 47-32 with less than three minutes remaining in the contest.
Switching up their defenses helped the Knights keep L-E from getting into a groove on offense in the second 16 minutes of play.
“We changed things up a couple possessions to try and keep them off balance and keep them from getting into a rhythm,” Johnson said of changing his team’s defensive schemes.
“I thought our guys listened well. We gave up a couple transition baskets in the first half which really hurt us. I think they ended up getting six transition baskets in the first half; some of those were from our turnovers and some were because of our lack of rebounding.
“I thought we did a good of communicating on defense down the stretch as far as switching our defenses in the second half.”
The Demons would get inside double figures when Martin bottomed out his third 3-point jumper of the night to make it 48-39 with 16 ticks left in the game clock.
The end was a far cry from how the Demons opened this one.
Being active on the defensive end of the floor led to the hosts jumping out to a 15-10 lead after the first quarter. Trailing 7-3 after the opening 90 seconds, the Demons used a pair of Daniel Quattlebaum layins (both resulting from NC turnovers) which were sandwiched between Martin’s coast-to-coast drive and his trey which gave L-E a 12-9 advantage.
In a ragged second eight minutes, NC evened things at 17 near the midway mark of the quarter with consecutive baskets from close range from Hough and Sullivan. Another NC turnover became a Quattlebaum layup to give the Demons back the lead at 19-17 with 2:33 left in the half. Seven seconds later, Johnson gave the advantage back to the guests with a 3-point basket. A Jamerius Summerson free throw with seven seconds left would lead to a stalemate after 16 minutes.
Johnson said his team is getting used to seeing zone sets as opposing teams try to sag their defense on Hough. Since losing their opener to Buford, the Knights have gotten comfortable not only in attacking zone schemes, but playing as a unit during what is now a three-game win streak.
“Our guys are doing a better job as far as trusting each other," he said “They’re carrying out their roles on the court and, I’ve been proud of their effort, as well. Hopefully, we’ll gain some confidence and they’ll start believing in their teammates and in what we’re trying to do and the decisions that we’re making.”
The loss dropped the Demons to 0-4 on the season heading into tonight’s rivalry meeting at Camden. Knight, whose team lists two freshmen and three sophomores on the roster, said the only thing L-E can do is continue to keep working hard to get over the hump.
“We just have to get better and try to improve on tonight and try and get (NC) next time,” he said. “You just have to be strong, come back to practice (Thursday) and get ready for your rival at their place. We’re going to do what we can. We’re young and still coming together. We’ll be OK.”

NC (48): William Jenkins 2 1-2 6, Jamie McCaskill 1 1-2 3, Kawan Hough 9 2-2 20, Lamont Frazier 1 0-0 2, Banyon Sullivan 5 1-5 11, Omar Johnson 2 1-4 6. Totals: 20 6-15 48
   L-E (39): Aldrecio Wells 3 0-0 7, Kevin Fields 4 0-0 9, Daniel Quattlebaum 3 0-0 6, Tyrese Elm 1 0-0 3, Elliott  Campbell 0 2-2 2, Jamerius Summerson 0 1-3 1, Keyshawn Martin 4 0-0 11. Totals: 15 3-5 39
   Score by quarters: First: L-E, 15-10; Halftime: 20-20; Third: NC, 32-27; Three-point goals: NC 1 (Jenkins), L-E 6 (Martin 3, Elm, Wells, Fields)

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