With Gilmer’s boys basketball team coming, North Murray sought a statement win under its new coach.
The Mountaineers sent the Bobcats home with their first loss of the season.
North Murray’s boys won their home opener 56-46 behind a third-quarter rally and the hot hands of seniors Drew Mosteller and Austen Horn. North Murray’s girls team won the earlier game 45-34 thanks to Erin Robinson’s 15-point performance.
Despite beating an undefeated team, North Murray coach Tim Ellis called the Mountaineers “a mystery.
“We’re trying to create depth,” he said. “I told them in there, I said, ‘Guys, I’m going to go with who I have confidence in. ... What that means is you have to take advantage of your opportunities.’”
One of those players who did just that was Mosteller. With the Mountaineers trailing 30-23 less than a minute into the second half, North Murray senior post Zach Vess found Mosteller on the weak side of the Bobcats’ zone for two straight wide open 3-pointers that swapped momentum to the home side. Vess grabbed the lead with two free throws, his first points of the game, and Horn scored on a layup and 3-pointer to force a Gilmer (6-1) timeout with 4:18 left in the quarter and North Murray (3-1) ahead 36-30.
“All of the sudden, we’re down seven,” Ellis said. “The next possession we hit a 3, which kind of got us rolling a bit.”
With North Murray leading 44-34 with 5:30 to play, Gilmer’s Conner Webber hit a 3-pointer, and Wheeler Lancey hit another 3-pointer 10 seconds later after a North Murray turnover. Two minutes later, Mosteller scored on a layup to extend the Mountaineers’ lead to 49-45.
extend the Mountaineers’ lead to 49-45.
The next five combined possessions included turnovers and missed shots before Vess followed up a Mosteller miss with a putback layup for a 51-45 lead with 1:47 left.
Gilmer’s Joe Bob Charles, who had a team-high 16 points, made one of two free throws while Horn responded with the same seconds later. He made two more for a 54-46 advantage, and the Bobcats’ next possession ended in a turnover, all but securing a North Murray victory with 25 seconds left.
“We knew they’d be a tough challenge for us with them being undefeated,” Mosteller said. “They beat Gordon Central, too, which is a tough team. We knew they’d be a good team. ... I just think we stepped it up defensively. Coach didn’t talk one minute about offense. It was just defense stepping up and making plays.”
After allowing 28 points in the first half, the Mountaineers allowed just 18 in the second half.
“We gave up 12 points in transition and eight points off offensive boards,” Ellis said of the first-half defense. “That’s 20 points. It should’ve been 23-8 at halftime. Now I know you can’t stop all of that, but we can’t allow transition points and second- and third-chance points.”
Horn ended with a game-high 17 points while Vess chipped in 10 points and eight rebounds.
In the first half, North Murray sank three 3-pointers but Vess did not record a single point. Ahead 16-15 after the first period, North Murray did not score a point for the first six minutes of the second quarter as Gilmer took a 22-16 lead.
“We have a tendency to play at the level — and I’m not saying anything negative about Gilmer, because Gilmer is a good team — but when somebody tries to slow things down and make things methodical, we go into a hibernation state,” Ellis said. “We’ve got to grow out of that.”
• North Murray girls 45, Gilmer 34: After leading 28-12 at halftime, the Lady Bobcats (3-4) rallied in the second half and cut the Lady Mountaineers (3-1) lead to 33-29 with five minutes left.
However, Robinson scored on the next three possessions, creating enough a secure cushion for the Lady Mountaineers.
“Early in the season (Robinson) hasn’t been finishing around the basket,” North Murray coach Keith Robinette said. “Really none of my posts have been where I thought they should be. I’m glad to see Erin back. If she can play like that, then she’ll have a great year. ... Casey Chapman, I can’t say enough about her. She played her tail off.”
Chapman had six points and six rebounds and Kara Deal finished with seven points. Megan Pittman was spread throughout the stat sheet with four points, four rebounds and six assists.
North Murray led 10-7 after the first quarter before a big second quarter. In the third, Gilmer scored 10 of the first 12 points thanks to a full-court press, and the Lady Bobcats trailed 32-23 heading into the final period.
“They were quicker than us and gave us a little grief,” Robinette said. “We’ve got to work better, work on our angles and rubbing shoulders coming around screens.”
• Northwest Whitfield boys 63, Ringgold 50: The Bruins jumped out to an 18-6 lead at the end of the first quarter and nearly doubled that by halftime while rolling to an easy non-region win.
Caleb Storey led Northwest (3-0) with 15 points, while O’Shea Hill had 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Overall, 10 different players scored for the Bruins, but coach Ryan Richards wasn’t particularly pleased.
“We didn’t have the same legs we had the other night (in a 70-38 win over Murray County), but we did get after it and make some runs,” Richards said. “We got the win and we are happy with some of the things we did. It is always frustrating when you play at a high level one night and not so great the next night. But you can’t complain about winning.”
• Northwest girls 78, Ringgold 13: The Lady Bruins emptied their bench with no trouble, leading 25-0 after the first quarter and 51-6 at halftime in a non-region blowout victory in Tunnel Hill.
Autumn Blackwell led all scorers with 15 points, while Mackenzie Mastin chipped in 12 for Northwest (4-2), which got points from all but two players on the roster. And everyone saw time on the floor for Northwest.
“We were able to play a bunch of kids and get everybody a lot of time,” Lady Bruins coach Greg Brown said. “We played pretty well and shot the ball well tonight, which I was very pleased with.”
n Northwest JV boys 57, Ringgold 26: Ty Pendley led all scorers with 13 points for the Bruins (3-0).
• Dalton JV boys 65, Coahulla Creek 24: Payton Veraldi scored 15 points, and Mark Sims and Tristen Darville each had 12 points for the Cats.
Andrew Fisher’s nine-point effort led the Colts.
• Southeast Whitfield split a double dual at Gilmer, beating Fannin County 66-18 but falling 58-12 to the host Bobcats — a fellow Area 7-4A program that has won five state duals titles and four state traditional tournament championships since 2005.
Omar Ruiz (120 pounds), Austin Allen (170) and Carlos Fraire (285) each went 2-0 for the Raiders (9-5).
“Gilmer’s a great team,” Southeast coach Michael Herndon said. “Our guys wrestled well, though. I think some of the guys wrestled the best matches they have so far this year. Good competition brings out the best in you, and I think a lot of them wrestled well.”
Herndon also said he learned Tuesday that his team finished fourth at this past weekend’s Woodstock Invitational, rather than fifth as he previous believed.
• North Murray split a double dual at Rockmart, falling 43-25 to the host Yellow Jackets but bouncing back to beat LaFayette 54-30.
Mountaineers coach Steve Colley said he started 11 freshmen or first-year wrestlers as North Murray (6-3) continues to cope with injuries. He said seniors Brandon Brock (138) and Kayla Webb (106) are likely out for the season; Blane Anderson (285) is expected to return from injury later this week, and Ethan Center (160) is competing despite a broken foot.
On Tuesday, Alex Gambino (106), Luis Velez (113), Elias Lechuga (132) and Brandon Adame (285) all went 2-0.
“We did good to wrestle that many young guys,” Colley said. “They fought hard against Rockmart. It was a lot closer than the score shows ... we were in it until right there at the end.”