SPORTS >> Falcons tune up for McClellan with easy win
Leader sports writer
North Pulaski went up 11-0 just over two minutes into the game, and it only got more lop-sided from there.
The Falcons (19-5 overall) upped their 5A-Southeast Conference record to 11-0 with a 72-35 rout of Crossett on Friday night at the Falcons’ Nest. North Pulaski grabbed the initial lead on a barrage of three-point baskets, and streaked out to an 18-0 advantage by the 3:54 mark of the first quarter before the Eagles (6-7, 4-6 found their way to the scoreboard. The Falcons led 24-4 at the end of the opening period, and 45-19 at the half.
“I wish I could put this night in a bottle and keep it,” said Falcons coach Ray Cooper. “My hat’s off to the kids. We were really disappointed in our defensive effort in our last game. We’ve strictly had defensive practices since then. And tonight, the guys really stepped up and got after it and played hard.”
The Eagles struggled to get around the North Pulaski press, and the Falcons also had a fluid night on the offensive side with Aaron Cooper, Daquan Bryant and Kyron Ware all in double figures.
“Those three are capable on any night of scoring 30 points,” said Ray Cooper. “This is the first night that we got all three of them going on the same night. We had other people step up, so we didn’t have to get that from them, but they’re all capable of it, and tonight, they got it going early. And when they’re all going early and we’re playing defense like that, we’re pretty tough.”
The Falcons kept pace with 11-0 McClellan, who they hosted last night in a first-place battle.
Post player Carlos Donnelly made the most of senior night with seven points and eight rebounds, which included a three-point basket in the fourth quarter, along with a breakaway steal and lay-up just before the half for the 6-9, 325-pound senior.
“Surprisingly, for a guy that size, he’s a pretty good ball handler,” Cooper said. “He’s been dying and begging me for an opportunity, and I guess with it being senior night, he just decided he wasn’t going to wait any longer. He’s leading our team in free-throw percentage. He’s probably one of our better outside shooters.”
Joe Agee’s trey at the 7:28 mark of the first quarter got the ball rolling for the Falcons, and Aaron Cooper followed with a pair of threes on the next two possessions. Daquan Bryant added a jumper that was assisted by Cooper to give the Falcons an 11-0 lead with 5:36 left in the first quarter.
With 4:30 left in the third, the Eagles had had enough and their bench requested the mercy-rule. The Falcons held a 58-23 lead at that point, and used their bench to complete the rout.
The frequent three-point attempts by the NP subs brought the Falcons’ shooting percentage down for the game, but did provide a nice moment for the crowd when junior Bradley Bohannon netted a trey with less than five minutes remaining. His first two attempts were a bit off target, but his third one was all net which fired up the home crowd.
“I’m so glad he hit one,” Cooper said. “He’s been wanting to hit one so bad. I’ve been telling him to just relax. He’s so wound up, and when he gets in a game, he gives you everything he has, so I’m glad for him. I’m as relieved as he is.”
The Falcons made 28 of 61 shots from the field and went 10 of 26 behind the three-point line. Crossett was 12 of 45 from the floor, including a dismal 2 of 13 in the opening period. North Pulaski had 33 rebounds compared to 22 for the Eagles. The Falcons finished with eight turnovers, while Crossett had 11 giveaways.
Cooper led the Falcons with 20 points and five assists. Agee also finished with five assists. Bryant had 16 points and eight rebounds. Kyron Ware added 11 points, while T.J. Green had six points and two steals and senior Jerald Blair had four points.
NORTH PULASKI 56 OT
The Lady Falcons led the entire way until the 5:28 mark of the fourth quarter, when a pair of foul shots lifted the Lady Eagles to their first lead of the game, 37-36. Regulation ended in a 45-45 tie when Shanae Govan hit a jumper in the lane for Crossett to force overtime.
The night took a turn for the worse moments earlier when senior all-purpose player Laura Dortch was charged with her fifth personal foul. Dortch had led the way defensively for the Lady Falcons, and had 10 points.
Crossett went up by as much as four in overtime, but the Lady Falcons stayed alive with a running jumper by Bianca Harper with 1:31 left, and a pair of free throws by Ke Ke Springs with 23 seconds remaining to tie it at 56-all. But it was all for naught, as Govan nailed a three-point basket in the final six seconds.
Harper led the Lady Falcons with 23 points, with 15 points from Springs. Brittany Bowen led Crossett with 16 points.