It turned out to be “Bench Night” for the Cary-Green Hope girls-boys basketball doubleheader Friday at the Falcons’ gym.
Green Hope’s boys needed their bench to help hold off Cary for a 64-58 victory as both teams suffered from cold shooting in the first half.
Meanwhile, Green Hope’s girls coach John D’Agostin emptied his bench as early as midway through the second quarter en route to a 76-48 win over the Imps.
Ridge’s free throws secure boys’ victory
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Green Hope junior guard Ridge Ford scored a team-leading 14 points, but he posted an unusual line. The 5-foot-11 junior had only two points at halftime and two field goals for the night.
The numbers that mattered most were 9 of 10 free throws in the final 1:08 of the game to stop Cary’s comeback fueled by a 25-point fourth period.
“We take free throws seriously,” said Ford, a football-basketball star for the Falcons. “You hit free throws, you win the game.”
In the tight Southwest Wake Athletic Conference race, Green Hope improved to 10-8 overall but 6-2 in conference play to remain one game behind league-leader Apex and tied for second with Holly Springs. Cary dropped to 12-5 and 4-4.
Free throws may be a routine part of Green Hope’s practices, but Falcons head coach John Green wants the ball in Ford’s hands when the opponent is forced to foul.
“He’s quick, can handle the ball and shoots free throws well,” he said.
Cary fought back from a 27-19 halftime deficit after the Falcons’ bench scored 14 of the team’s 16 second-half points.
Jonathan Clark scored eight in the period and 11 for the night. Other bench scorers in the crucial second were Will Harkins with four his six on the night and Drew Hegeman with two of his six.
Conversely, Cary’s bench failed to contribute in the first half and scored only nine for the game.
Cary’s Cory Gensler sparked the Imps’ comeback with 22 of his 26 points in the second half. The 6-4 junior scored 10 of Cary’s points in a 12-5 run to trim the deficit to 51-48 with 1:41 to play.
“Cary shot the ball about as poor as they probably can in the first half,” said Green, whose team won the first meeting 83-74. “Some of that was probably our defense, but they just didn’t have a good half. I knew they would shoot better in the second half. We had to get ahead by as much as possible.”
Green Hope girls share the wealth
Green Hope’s girls scored 76 points, won by 28 and received another slick all-around performance from sophomore point guard Kelly Fitzgerald with a team-high 15 points – all in the first half.
But the most important numbers were 11 and 12. All 12 girls saw lengthy playing time and 11 scored. D’Agostin said he was proud of his starters for cheering on the subs.
“It’s great to see our subs get a chance to play,” Fitzgerald said. “They came off the bench and helped the team. When we’re in closer games, we can rely on them.”
Green Hope’s Rachel Argabright added 12 points and Brandi Moser 11. Cary’s Meredith Courtney scored 12 and Megan Cannady 10.
Green Hope is still in the SWAC race with a 10-5 overall record and 6-2 conference mark, one game back of Apex and Holly Springs. Cary’s young team dropped to 3-13 and 1-7.
“We’re just not executing right now,” Cary coach Patrick Daly said. “Green Hope shot the ball well no matter what defense we played. I feel like we always play hard, but playing hard is not going to get the job done. We’ve got to get back in the gym and work on it.”