Chapel Hill capitalized on an inside-outside game, with Elijah Haynes stirring up the paint, and Ben Gaynes banging in four 3-pointers from the perimeter, to knock off Big 8 3A conference foe Northwood 58-35 Friday night.
“When I started hitting 3s they had to respect the outside shot because a lot more people on our team can shoot,” Gaynes said. “So they had to guard it more, which also opened up the post. Then once the post got it they could swing it around, and the opposite 3 would be open, and it just opened up the whole court for us.”
The Tigers are still playing without Max Conolly, who has been out since Christmas.
“I told the boys we’ve just got to weather the storm, and hope Max gets better quickly. Next man up,” coach Rodney Carter said. “And tonight it was Ben. Ben had a big 14 (points). Ben hit three straight 3s, and we ran away with the game at that point.”
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Carter said Haynes, who led all players with 22 points, “is a very good kid, a good basketball player. He just has to grow.”
For most of the first period the tally on the scoreboard more closely resembled a baseball score. But the Tigers slowly edged into an 11-5 lead at the close of the eight minutes.
Northwood’s shooting was as cold as bare feet on ceramic tile in the morning, missing wildly on a multiple shots and hurling air balls on 3-point attempts.
“I don’t know if it was bad shooting, but their guys had a hand in their face pretty much every time,” Carter said. “The guys played really good defense. The first game we held them to 33. This time I said let’s hold them to 35.”
Chapel Hill wasn’t much sharper offensively at the outset, and both teams were plagued with turnovers and travel calls.
But in the span of two minutes the Tigers’ Kai White went 3-3 from the free throw line, Gaynes banged in a 3-pointer, and Haynes added a free throw to begin the separation.
Haynes was the scoring machine for Chapel Hill in the second period, tossing in 11 points on four field goals and a trio of free throws. Haynes repeatedly wormed through traffic to the basket to score, and the Chargers didn’t seem to have an answer for him.
The Chargers continued their dismal showing in the second period, although they had some morale-boosting moments when Brendan Harrington got back-to-back blocked shots against Chapel Hill’s Corey Jones and David Elian just shy of the one-minute mark, and Harrington drained a 3-pointer as the last second ticked off the clock.
But even that buzzer-beating play was marred when Northwood’s Gordon Brann was called on a foul for hanging on the basket. Haynes sank a free throw to give the Tigers another point to carry into the locker room.
Northwood went on an 8-2 run to narrow the score to 32-25 with 2:49 to play in the third period. But Gaynes knocked down a pair of 3-pointers at 1:54 and 45 seconds to close out the period 38-25, and hit another to open the final period.
Things got a bit chippy with 3:25 remaining in the game. Haynes hit a jumper, but was fouled when Northwood’s Aaron Ross came crashing into him, flipping him hard onto the floor. Ross fouled out on the play, but Haynes missed the free throw. Haynes was charged with a technical foul on the play when he came off the floor and shoved Ross.