Leader Blues

Friday, December 05, 2008

SPORTS>> Falcons roll Senators

By JASON KING
Leader sportswriter

North Pulaski’s quick hands helped the Falcons to a 79-60 win over Robinson on Tuesday night at the Falcons’ Nest.

North Pulaski snagged 14 steals and forced 26 turnovers overall, and the Falcons’ superior depth kept them unblemished at 5-0 through the early season.

The underlying theme of the game was speed versus speed, with both teams running up-tempo offenses and pressing on the defensive end.

That turned out heavily in the Falcons’ favor.

The Senators (2-3) had no answer for the NP junior duo of Aaron Cooper and DuQuan Bryant. Cooper led the Falcons in scoring with 20 points, while Bryant led everything else, including adding nine boards and four steals to go along with his 15 points.

“We knew we were similar teams,” said North Pulaski coach Raymond Cooper. “We like to pressure and run when we need to.

We’ve been working on using pressure without gambling. Sometimes when you gamble with using pressure you can give up some easy baskets.

“We wanted our guys to be fresh in the second half – that’s where we got most of their turnovers. We had some lapses here and there, but for the most part, I thought our guys did a good job. Our guys came in off the bench and had a good night as well.”

Defensively, the Falcons sealed off Robinson’s only consistent first-half scorer in post player Dashun Fleming. Fleming led the Senators with 13 points, 11 of which came in the first half.

After building a 19-10 lead through the first quarter, the Falcons pushed their lead to double digits at the start of the next frame when Cooper hit the back end of a two-shot foul that was set up with a steal and dish from guard Joe Agee. Cooper extended that lead further over the next 2:30 with three straight three-pointers.

His first trey came at the 7:06 mark to put North Pulaski up 23-12, his second, assisted by Jerald Blair, gave the Falcons a 12-point lead following a basket by Joe T forward Jon Stewart, and the final one followed a putback by Kyron Ware with 4:26 left in the first half for a 31-16 North Pulaski lead.

The outside game didn’t hold up for North Pulaski, but its control of the glass allowed a number of second-chance shots.

Junior T.J. Green picked up the slack on the boards when subbing for Bryant, and finished with 11 points of his own, including a pair of crowd-approved dunks in the final minute of the fourth quarter.

“T.J. is a guy that has really come on for us,” Cooper said. “He missed his ninth-grade year because of an accident, but he is very athletic, and is still learning how to play. We’ve got to get him up to the level of playing hard all the time, but once he does that, his athleticism should take over, and he could have some really big nights.

“Kyron has been stepping up, and he’s also improving all the time,” Cooper added.

Robinson had a 5-0 run at the 4:26 mark to cut the deficit to 67-52, but an and-one opportunity for Cooper at the 3:16 mark ended the brief swing as quickly as it began.

Ware extended the lead from there with three straight jumpers to give North Pulaski a 75-54 lead with 1:11 left to play.

Ware finished with 12 points, three rebounds and a steal. Colson added nine points and a block, and Bryan Colson had eight points and three rebounds. Cooper had three steals, two rebounds and two assists to go along with his game-high 20 points.