Leader Blues

Saturday, December 05, 2009

SPORTS >> Quartet does job in Falcons victory

Aaron Cooper goes up for a jumper against Cabot’s Christian Armstrong.

Leader sportswriter

North Pulaski spread the wealth and the court in its 56-44 non-conference victory over Cabot on Tuesday night at Panther Pavilion.

The Falcons (5-0) put their speed and quickness to good use in the second half, starting the third quarter with a 7-0 run to take an 11-point lead with 5:50 left in the period. Balanced scoring also helped North Pulaski.

While Cabot (2-1) relied mostly on senior guard Alex Baker, with help inside from post Christian Armstrong, North Pulaski countered with four players who finished in double figures.

Baker led all scorers with 22 points and Armstrong finished with 11 for Cabot while North Pulaski seniors Duquan Bryant, Aaron Cooper, Kyron Ware and junior Bryan Colson all scored 10 or more.

“I feel pretty good, because this is what we worked on,” Falcons coach Raymond Cooper said. “The intensity level was there. I don’t expect to blow people out. Like I told them, I don’t care what the score is — one point, five points — I look at how you play it. The points and the score will take care of themselves.”

Bryant led the Falcons with 16 points while Cooper scored 15, Ware finished with 12 and Coulson scored 10.

“That’s what we want. We don’t want one guy with 30 points,” Cooper said. “We want it to be balanced. We don’t want a scouting report coming that says, ‘okay, you stop this guy, you stop them.’ We want you to know that if you stop one thing, we can do something else.”

The Panthers kept pace with the Falcons in the first half, but the deeper North Pulaski bench and full-court brand of basketball began to take their toll in the final two quarters.

“Tonight, we got after it,” Cooper said. “We talked and we rotated. We did the things that we practice on. And that’s what I’m looking for, because we have to continually get better. We keep finding things that we’ve got to improve on. The guys have got to stick to it and buy into it. Tonight, they followed the adjustments.”

Bryant got the Falcons started in the second half with a pair of free throws, followed by an inside basket assisted by Ware to give North Pulaski a 25-17 lead with 6:52 left in the third quarter. Ware then converted a three-point play to extend the lead to 11.

Aaron Cooper sunk his only three-pointer of the second half with 1:43 left in the third; the rest was all Bryant.

Bryant held off the Panthers’ rally in the final minute of the quarter with his inside play.

A three-pointer by Darin Jones cut the lead to 31-24, and a mid-range jumper by Baker with 1:05 left in the third made it 31-26.

Bryant answered on the next trip with a putback of his own miss and a free throw just before the end of the quarter to give the Falcons a 35-28 lead.

North Pulaski returned to its full-court press to start the fourth quarter, and got the turnovers that fed a 12-2 run.