Two big games against two powerhouse teams at the Wild Wing Cafe Hoops Classic? No problem for the Northside Christian Knights.
Rayjon Tucker scored 27 points and Davon Bell 15 as Northside Christian bounced the Abraham Lincoln Rail Splitters (Brooklyn, N.Y.) 74-67 Saturday night at Ardrey Kell High to advance to the tournaments boys championship game.
The Knights will play the Montverde Academy Eagles at 9 p.m. Monday. Montverde Academy is ranked No. 2 in the country by MaxPreps.
Northside Christian remained unbeaten, improving to 11-0. The win Saturday also stretched the Knights winning streak to 22 games, dating to last season when they claimed the NCISAA 2A championship.
Desi Armstrong poured in a game-high 27 points and had eight rebounds for the Rail Splitters, with Elisha Boone and Isaiah Whitehead scoring 13 and 12, respectively.
The big factor in Saturdays win for Northside Christian was its ability to excel for a major portion of the second half without two of its top players. James Demery and Desean Murray sat out in foul trouble, but Tucker and Bell more than made up for the absence of their teammates.
Thats the definition of the team, said Knights coach Byron Dinkins. Somebody goes down, the next man steps up and hold our ground until we can get those guys back in. It was a total team effort. Everybody who came in gave something.
After leading by two points at the half, Northside Christian outscored Abraham Lincoln 20-10 in the third quarter to take a 50-38 lead. The Knights built their lead to 14 in the fourth quarter, but the Rail Splitters fought back to trim the lead to four with three minutes left. But the Knights hit their free throws late to hold on for the win.
Tucker, who scored 18 of his 22 points in the second half when Demery and Murray were out of the game, talked about coming to the rescue. I just felt like with them being in foul trouble, I had to step up my game and do what I do to help the team out, he said.
Tucker also described what it would be like to win the prestigious tournament Monday. It would just be a big win. Were a little 2A division school, and anything we do were always the underdog because people dont think were good enough to play with these big teams. Were just going to go out there and do what we do and whatever happens, happens.
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