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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Dixie Over North

Saturday night’s game between Dixie and Tri-County was a defensive matchup,  both teams played stubborn man to man defensive where each basket was hard earned.  Fans hoping to see a lot of string music were disappointed, but basketball purists were able to watch an evening of intense defensive pressure.  Earlier in the week Dixie had lost to Waynesville where senior post player Matt Isaac’s had broken his foot.  North was coming off a loss the previous night and so both teams wanted to end the week on an up note with a victory.   Dixie’s head coach, Mike Waggoner, had formerly coached at North, so there was that factor as well.

North came out in a 2-3 zone, but Dixie was able to knockdown a couple of early 3’s and that pulled North out into man to man defense that they would use the remainder of the game.  That defensive pressure allowed North to slowly make up ground against Dixie.  They were down 7-11 at the first quarter.  Dixie changed up tactics and began to put full court pressure on North.   North was trying to get the ball inside to their big man – Josh Heltsley.   And he had some success – scoring all his points in the first half. A couple of the matchups to watch were Dixie’s postman Greg Leonard against Josh Heltsley and North’s Austin Hutchins against Luke Bowling.  Both Bowling and Hutchins are exceptional athletes  having played quarterback for their respective schools in the fall. North got a couple of baskets right before halftime to pull within one point 14-15.

The third quarter saw the lead change several times and right before the end of the third quarter, North’s  Austin Hutchins connected on a 3 point to break  a tie and give North a 26-23 lead.  Dixie played even with North thru out most of the third quarter, but they needed a spark to boost them past the Panthers.  This was provided by Logan Watts who connected on a key 3 point shot to tie the game at the 2:57 mark.   But he was not finished – he would score 9 of his 14 points down the stretch in the 4th quarter.  He also made some critical free throws that protected the Dixie lead. North’s Billy Derringer  drove the length of the court for a layup to pull North to within 2, 30-32.  But Dixie was in slow down mode and North had to foul.   When the final horn blew, it was 33-35 Dixie in a hard fought game.

“We pride ourselves on defense,” stated North’s coach Jackson after the game, “we knew that if we kept them under 40, that we had a chance to win the game.  It was just a defensive battle, Hutchins still lead us in scoring, but they did a good job on us defensively.  It was a defensive  battle that came down to the last few possessions.  So you tip your hat to Dixie, they got the better of us. We lost two close games this weekend – that’s tough on the kids, but we will get better.”

“I thought very early that we defended very hard.” Said Dixie’s Mike Waggoner afterwards, “But we gave them 8 easy put backs.  So although we defended well, those stick backs cost us.  We did have some opportunities to score, but we couldn’t hit our shots.  When we didn’t make shots, we began to make bad decisions.  I told the guys when we’re not making shots - control the ball game and be patient on offense, don’t rush.  They will eventually break down and we will get the shot we want. “

He continued,” It has been an emotional week for us with loss of one of our leaders [Matt Isaacs].  So last night’s game against Northridge, our first without Isaacs was an emotional game.  Tonight Logan Watt’s three in the 4th quarter was big for us.  Then he knocked out some free throws.   He stepped up when we needed him.”