BRADFORD – Both Bradford and Tri-County North have struggled this season, but both teams laid it on the line on Friday night.
They still have a chance to move up in the league standings – and both teams are playing for pride. Fans were treated to a game with several lead changes and ties as the two teams battled on the hardwood.
The teams had contrasting offensive styles in which North seemed determined to drive the ball into the teeth of Bradford defense while Bradford got the most traction with the 3-point shot – nailing an impressive 10 treys on the night.
Serving up seven of the treys for the Railroader cause was Parker Smith, who made some of his shots at critical times. Near the end of the third quarter, North had gone on a little run to open a double-digit lead. But Parker Smith hit back to back 3-pointers to close the gap and keep the game close. Tri-County North coach Joe Smith later admitted that he assigned four players to guard Parker Smith during the night, but Parker Smith still finished the game with 21 points despite the extra attention.
The first quarter was back and forth and fittingly ended in a 12-all tie. North opened a narrow lead in the second quarter, and the Roaders did not help their cause when the turned the ball over on two consecutive possessions at the end the quarter. This was after Alex Swabb had earlier tied the game up at 22 midway through the quarter. The steals allowed North to pad its lead and enter the half up 33-25.
But Bradford battled even in the third quarter. And in the last quarter it looked like the Railroaders might surge past the Panthers. Parker Smith hit a shot to tie the game at 44 early in the quarter. And Josh Phillips next hit a free throw to briefly give Bradford the lead.
The hometown crowd was very vocal at this point. But North’s Gabe Brinson hit his only trey on the night to give North a lead that it would not relinquish. Bradford kept it close, but in the last two minutes the Railroaders had to begin fouling and the Panthers were impressive from the stripe – scoring 8 of their 15 fourth quarter points from the foul line. At game’s end it was 59-49 in North’s favor.
“This has been our season – so close yet so far away,” Bradford coach Mackenzie Perry said when discussing the loss. “Every possession matters in a close game. And I look at some of our first half possessions where we just threw the ball away; if we take care of the ball better and we wouldn’t have trailed in the second half. But our guys played hard, and we had a chance to win. We get a shot in the corner when it was 51-47, and we’ve hit that shot so many times before, but this time it just wouldn’t go in. But then we had some layups that we missed, too.”
Parker Smith was high scorer for both teams with 21 points.
“He is a lights out shooter,” Perry said. “He will shoot an extra 500 shots per day. That has made him a great shooter and is also continuing to improve other aspects of his game. He is a leader on the court and does a great job – it is great to see his hard work paying off.”
Parker Smith led Bradford with 21 points, Swabb scored 14, Dialaquan Millhouse 7, Walker Branson 5 and Phillips 2. Branson was the glass cleaner for the night with seven rebounds, Swabb lead the team with five assists, and Parker Smith lead the team with 4 steals.
Zach Edgin and Brian Stinson led Tri-County North with 15 points each, Brinson scored 14, Bailey Lairson 4, James Fry 3, Terrell Lewis 3, Brandon Parsons 3 and Josh Heindl 2.