Were they up to the task?
Raider Gold got out to a small first-half lead, then had to withstand a fierce second-half rally from Raider Green to hold on for a 39-32 win.
With the victory in front of a vocal crowd packed with supporters of both squads, Raider Gold took the first round of the 2010-11 series between the intra-school rivals.
Raider Green coach Jay Jones said his team’s game plan was to try and slow down Raider Gold’s run-and-gun fast break, transition offensive attack.
For the most part, that defensive strategy worked, as a Raider Gold team that has been consistently scoring in the 50s and 60s was held below 40 points.
But on the other end of the court, Raider Green had trouble getting its shots to fall.
It added up to a frustrating night for Jones and his team, which fell to 3-3 in its final game before the winter break.
“They did a nice job early of getting some points off easy shots,” Jones said. “And we had trouble all night getting ours to fall.”
Raider Gold (4-2) came out of the gate with an 8 -2 run and led 11-5 at the first stop. Raider Gold was able to keep Raider Green at bay in the second quarter, and the teams went to the locker room with Raider Gold up 20-12 — not an insurmountable lead or even a comfortable one.
Raider Green demonstrated that early in the third period. After Raider Gold pushed out to its biggest lead of the contest at 24-15, Raider Green began to make a push. A drive to the basket, foul, and old-fashioned three-point play by Dedrick McLaurin sparked a 6-0 run that brought Raider Green to within three at 24-21.
Raider Green kept the game within striking distance the rest of the way, cutting the Raider Gold advantage to two at 32-30 with the opening basket of the fourth quarter. But Raider Gold was able to hold on down the stretch. Raider Gold coach Milton Swinnie said it was a typical Green-Gold matchup.
“It’s a great atmosphere, both crowds are great, and both teams played hard,” Swinnie said.
Brendon Jones had 17 points for Raider Gold to lead all scorers. Alden Nelson added 10.
McLaurin led Raider Green with nine points. C.J. Reader added eight and Kenny Hampton chipped in with six.
Both teams are now idle until after the break. Raider Gold returns to action Thursday, Jan. 6 at home against Lumberton, while Raider Green hits the court for the first time in 2011 a day earlier, hosting Scotland Wednesday, Jan. 5. Both games are slated for a 6 p.m. tipoff.
Contact sports editor David Vantress at 997-3111, ext. 14 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org