Chargers explode for 11 threes in 44-point trouncing of Eagles

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PITTSBORO — To its chagrin, Eastern Alamance learned that the most dangerous place to be on a basketball court is between Northwood’s Griffin Hobbs and a sluggish scoring streak.

Hobbs, a sophomore shooting guard, fired up a game-high 18 points last Tuesday to help the Chargers smother the Eagles, 79-35. It was bombs away for Hobbs, who pumped in five 3-pointers in his season-high tally.

“Coach told me before the game he wanted me to get up a couple more shots this game and I was just kind of feeling it tonight. It was good energy, it was a good crowd, and it just felt good to perform in front of them,” Hobbs said. “I’m a 3-point shooter, but tonight I was in a rhythm. I saw the first two go in, and after that it just felt good for me.”

That’s not a rhythm Hobbs has experienced in recent games.

“I felt like I’ve been in a little bit of a slump for not shooting my shots as much as I should lately, so tonight it felt really good to get up there,” Hobbs said.

Hobbs credited the Chargers’ guards with penetrating the paint, making the defense collapse and then getting out so the guys at perimeter were able to either shoot it up or get into the paint for an easy layup.

“One of our main points as a team is our defense,” Hobbs said. “We don’t like to give up more than 40 points a game. That’s our goal every game.”

Northwood capped off its regular season a few days later with a 53-27 win over Western Alamance on Friday, but there are some goals beyond what’s in front of them.

“We all have state championship on our mind,” Hobbs said. “Also conference championship. We just want to really work on getting better these next couple of weeks.”

Joining Hobbs in double digits were sophomores Fred Whitaker Jr. (17), Drake Powell (15) and Ashton Elliott (13). The Chargers were relentless with their 3-pointers, pumping in 13 compared to 17 traditional buckets. Ten of the 11 players who suited up scored. Senior Kasen McCawley led the Eagles with 16 points, followed by sophomore Michael Reaves with 11.

Northwood coach Matt Brown said the 3-point barrage wasn’t characteristic of his team.

“I’m hoping it becomes a little more typical,” Brown said. “We’ve been working really hard on our jumpers and being consistent with our jumpers. If we can get that (3-point attack), that’s a big piece of our puzzle that we’re missing right now.”

Eastern Alamance had a very literal tall order in trying to upset Northwood. The Chargers had a towering height and wingspan advantage. The Eagles couldn’t drive into the paint, were forced to take outside shots, struggled futilely to get rebounds and were stymied with multiple turnovers and errant passes.

“That’s what we pride ourselves on,” Brown said. “Don’t turn the ball over, play really well on defense. I thought our bench gave us a spark at the beginning of the game, and we shot the ball really well tonight. I told the boys after the game their hard work is starting to pay off, and they’re starting to click.”

The Chargers opened with a 19-5 lead in the first quarter, which included a 13-point run in the final four minutes. The attack was propelled by Drake Powell’s 7 points, which included a 3-pointer and one of his two slam dunks that ignited partisan cheers from the Northwood bench.

The second quarter was more of the same, starting with a rebound demonstration by Max Frazier. He put up four consecutive shots, getting three of his own rebounds in the process, to score his only bucket of the game. After a nearly 6 ½-minute drought, Eastern Alamance got back on the board at 5:35 when Justin Andrews briefly solved the Chargers’ defense.

The third quarter started with another oddity. McCawley had the ball near midcourt, but fumbled the ball and inexplicably didn’t pick it up, apparently thinking mistakenly the whistle blew it dead. Powell seized the ball, dashed to the Northwood basket and soared to the rim for an electrifying dunk.

Whitaker dropped in 10 points during the third quarter, including a 7-point run of his own that included a pair of free throws, a steal that he converted into a layup and a 3-pointer. Kenan Parrish helped the cause with a nifty turnaround jumper near the top of the key.

A 3-pointer by Hobbs with 5:03 to play in the fourth quarter triggered a continuous running clock because the lead expanded past 40 points, 72-30, as Northwood brought its bench in for much of the rest of the game.

This season, the Chargers have won 10 games by at least 20 points and with the most recent wins over Eastern and Western Alamance, they’ve claimed the Central 3A conference title after posting a perfect 12-0 record.

It’s the team’s third-straight year earning a regular-season conference championship, an accomplishment that has been followed up with a trip to the state semifinals in each of the last two seasons.

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