NEW PARIS – National Trail rode the strength of 20 converted free throws to defeat the ever-improving Bradford Railroaders 54-45 in a Cross County Conference boys basketball game Friday night.
If charity begins at home, nothing was more evident as home standing National Trail converted 20 of 32 free throw attempts for 63 percent while Bradford only got to the line nine times, popping in four for 44 percent.
National Trail, which celebrated its senior night Friday, improved to 10-12 overall and finished up at .500 in the Cross County Conference at 6-6. Bradford’s record dropped to 2-20 overall and 2-10 in the CCC.
First quarter firings showed National Trail scoring 14 points while Bradford followed closely with 11 markers.
Leading Bradford was junior Dialaquan Millhouse with 7 points on the strength of a long 3-pointer to start the scoring for the Railroaders. Junior Parker Smith and senior Alex Swabb both added a deuce for the Bradford scoring output.
Dalton Mason led the Trailblazers by banging in 5 points underneath followed closely by Caleb Deardorff with 4 to help lead the Blazers to their 14 points.
The second quarter was a see-saw affair as National Trail punched in 9 points while Bradford countered with 8 for a 4-point disadvantage at 23-19 heading into the locker room.
Smith led the Railroaders with 6 points on the strength of two long 3s. Following in the scoring column was junior Josh Phillips with a bucket.
Mason again led National Trail with another 5 points to help the Blazers cling to their minuscule halftime lead.
The third quarter showcased National Trail blistering the nets for 17 points and holding the Railroaders to 11, which propelled the home team to a double-digit lead at 40-30.
Bradford jumped out with a quick 3-pointer to make the scoreboard read 23-22, but National Trail retaliated with 14 straight points for a 36-22 advantage in front of the home standing Blazer crowd.
Bradford was led again in this quarter by Smith, who launched in 5 points, followed by Millhouse and Swabb with a triple apiece.
National Trail again was led by Mason, who scored 8 points, followed by Deardorff with 4.
Bradford saved its best quarter for last as the Railroaders out-gunned the Blazers to 15-14 to only go down by 9 points in this fast-action game that showed a lot of ebb and flow with each possession.
Senior Walker Branson brandished the nets for 6 points to lead the Railroaders in the fourth quarter followed by Swabb, who launched in 5, while Smith and Phillips both had a deuce for the Railroaders.
National Trail, who had 12 free throws in the last eight minutes of action, was led by Zach Woodall who paced the Blazers with 6 points, all from the charity stripe.
“Turnovers killed us tonight as 18 is way too many,” Bradford coach Mackenzie Perry said. “If we could have cut that down to half that, we could have put that game in the ‘W’ column. We need to execute and not give up the easy buckets. Our players never gave up and never quit hustling, and I can guarantee you that as long as I am here that will never change.”
Scoring profiles for the victorious National Trail squad showcase Mason with 21 points, Travis Hunt 8, Peyton Harrison 8, Deardorff 8, Woodall 6, Tyler Glander 2 and Weston Haws 1. National Trail had no triples, 17 regulars and 20 freebies for its 54 total points.
Smith led with Bradford with 15 points, Millhouse had 10 points, Swabb 10 points and 8 assists, Branson 6 points and five rebounds and Josh Phillips 4 points and 10 rebounds. Final breakdowns showed the Railroaders with seven triples, 10 regulars and four free throws for their 45 total points.