OLIN—The regular season is winding down and South Iredell’s boys basketball team is trending upward.
The Vikings collected 17 points and 14 rebounds from Gavin Morrison and held off North Iredell’s fourth-quarter comeback bid Tuesday night to secure a 53-49 North Piedmont Conference win.
It was the fourth win in the last five games for South Iredell (8-14, 5-4).
“We’re playing good ball right now,” Vikings coach Michael Dodson said.
The victory avenged a 78-49 loss to the Raiders (9-14, 4-5) in the teams’ first conference meeting in Troutman.
North Iredell closed the third quarter on a 13-2 run to lead for the first time, 38-37, on Beckham Tharpe’s putback with five seconds left in the period.
Morrison’s stickback sparked a 10-0 spurt to begin the final quarter, propelling the Vikings to a 47-38 advantage.
The Raiders battled back to get within 50-49 when Matthew Stikeleather buried a 3-pointer on a kick out pass from Jackson Hawkins. There were 40 seconds left when Stikeleather knocked down that shot.
South Iredell got the necessary stops on defense and made enough free throws at the end to hang on.
Player of the game
Cullen Smith scored nine points, but his defense made the huge difference. The senior was primarily the one assigned to guard Hawkins as the Vikings went to a box-and-one strategy.
Smith shadowed Hawkins most of the game and stuck to him like glue. The Raiders’ top scoring threat didn’t make his first basket until near the midpoint of the third quarter, trimming the South Iredell lead to 35-28.
“He was incredible,” Dodson said. “It was his ability to deny him the ball. I don’t know what (Hawkins) finished with, but it wasn’t his average. I guarantee that.”
Hawkins made only two made field goals and finished with nine points.
“They had a good game plan against Hawk,” Raiders coach Jeff LeVan said. “We just didn’t respond.”
Like the rematch with North Iredell, the Vikings also redeemed themselves a week ago against then league-leading West Rowan, avenging a 77-35 loss to the Falcons with a 60-58 NPC win.
Dodson touted their commitment to practicing close game situations in the fourth quarter.
But he highlighted something else too.
“Our focus,” he said. “100 percent.”
South Iredell’s Hunter Barnette and Justin Alquiza supplied seven points apiece Tuesday.
John Jackson paced the Raiders with 15 points. The sophomore almost had 18. He launched a shot at the midcourt stripe as time expired in the second quarter. It swished through the net. But the officials ruled the ball had not left his hand in time. They waved off the basket. North Iredell went to the locker room trailing 26-20 at the break.
The Vikings close the regular season Friday on the road against Carson.
North Iredell will also be on the road for Friday’s regular-season finale. They visit last-place East Rowan.
Zeigler leads South Iredell girls to victory
Ashtyn Zeigler poured in 12 of her game-high 18 points in the first half Tuesday as South Iredell defeated North Iredell 39-26.
Zeigler’s baseline jumper, assisted by Lindsay Durham, lifted the Vikings (10-11, 5-4) to a 35-18 advantage in the fourth quarter.
The Raiders (3-20, 0-9) made the first basket. The Vikings scored eight straight points in the first quarter and never trailed again.
Durham turned in a solid game all around. She grabbed 10 rebounds to go with her four points, four assists and four steals. Sarah Nelson contributed seven points.
Skylin Guill’s five points led North Iredell. Bailey Barzee, Natasha Gwo and Jewell Allen added four points apiece. Barzee had 10 rebounds.
South Iredell 53, North Iredell 49
SOUTH IREDELL (53): Gavin Morrison 17, Smith 9, Barnette 7, Alquiza 7, McLeod 6, Labelle 5, Watson 2.
NORTH IREDELL (49): John Jackson 15, Hawkins 9, Cline 6, Nicholson 4, Tharpe 4, Turner 4, Stikeleather 3, Blanton 2, Dancy 2.
South Iredell 39, North Iredell 26
SOUTH IREDELL (39): Ashtyn Zeigler 18, Nelson 7, Mercer 5, Durham 4, Weddington 4, Jolly 1.
NORTH IREDELL (26): Skylin Guill 5, Gwo 4, Allen 4, Barzee 4, Moore 2, Lamb 2,Goodin 2, Myers 2, Anderson 1.