Northside Christian boys basketball coach Byron Dinkins knew his nationally ranked team would face some stiff competition in the Wild Wing Cafe Hoops Classic.
As it turned out, Dinkins and his Knights got that ... and nearly more.
Northside Christian fended off several challenges from Arlington Country Day to take a 100-90 victory Friday night at Ardrey Kell High School and advance to the national bracket semifinals.
James Demery, who has committed to St. Joseph’s, scored a game-high 29 points and led four players in double figures for the undefeated Knights (10-0), ranked 14th in the nation by MaxPreps.com.
Desean Murray added 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Davon Bell and Keyshawn Woods scored 15 points each for Northside Christian, which has now won 21 consecutive games dating back to the Knights’ run for the N.C. private schools 2A championship last spring.
Northside Christian now faces a tougher opponent in the tournament semifinals Saturday – Lincoln (NY), which has been ranked in several national polls this season. Lincoln beat Westlake (Ga.) 56-51 in its opener Friday.
Minnesota signee Nate Mason scored 20 points to lead five players in double figures for the Apaches (10-3), who shot 61.1 percent from the field (33 of 54) and hit 7 of 13 3-pointers.
However, while the Knights made just 59.3 percent from the field (32 of 54, including 5 of 9 3-pointers), they enjoyed a 31-24 rebounding advantage. They also outshot Arlington Country Day at the free throw line, making 31 of 37 attempts, including 20 of 25 in the second half.
Still, the Apaches made things interesting in the first half, overcoming a 10-point deficit early in the second quarter to tie the game at 41 on Maura’s 3-pointer with 3:11 left. But Northside closed out the quarter with a 15-4 run to take a 56-45 lead at the break.
The Knights increased their lead to 19 points midway through the third quarter – going up 70-49 on Addison Holmes’ layup with 4 minutes, 17 seconds left – and were ahead 77-63 entering the final period.
That’s when Arlington made its final push, pulling within six points at 94-88 on Turner’s 3-pointer with 1:07 left. But Northside scored six straight points at the line to push its lead back to double digits.
Kiser on Twitter: @BKiser_CLTObs.
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