Mount Tabor subdues Reagan in JV play

Mount Tabor subdues Reagan in JV play
February 19
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Craig T. Greenlee– Raiders guard Trey McDaniel launches a jump over stretched-out arms of Mount Tabor’s Bond Craver (20).)

At every level of basketball, rebounding is fundamental.

In the case of the two best junior varsity teams in the Central Piedmont Conference, rebounding was the telling story. Mount Tabor used its size and muscle to subdue Reagan in a convincing 76-64 road win on Feb. 10. With the victory, the Spartans clinched the conference championship with one game left to play in the regular season.

Coach Willie Harrison’s crew had visions of closing out their season with an unblemished record in league play. Instead, the season ended on a low note as the Spartans suffered an agonizing 58-56 overtime loss to Davie County in the season finale on Feb. 13.

The War Eagles helped their cause immensely by hitting eight 3-pointers for the game. Early in the third quarter, Davie went up 39-18, but Mount Tabor clawed its way back into contention in the final minutes of regulation, which ended in a 47-47 tie.

The Spartans had an opportunity to pull out the victory in the final seconds of OT, but Isaiah Wilkins’ 3-point shot attempt from the right corner bounced off the rim as the final buzzer sounded. Kai Leslie topped Mount Tabor with 19 points, Wilkins contributed 11 and Tyrek McNeil finished with 10 points.

“We played well in the third and fourth quarter. That’s what enabled us to make a comeback,” said Harrison, whose team finished the season at 16-4, 10-1 in conference play. “Our ultimate goal was to go undefeated in the conference, but we couldn’t get it done.  We didn’t want the end our season with a loss. There’s really no reason to cry about it, especially since we had already won the conference two nights earlier.”

In a game that was expected to be tightly-contested from start to finish, Mount Tabor managed to keep Reagan from gaining momentum. Every time the Raiders pulled to within 5 points of the lead, the Spartans were able to score enough points to maintain a comfortable working margin.

“Coming in, we knew that we’d get Reagan’s best shot and we were ready,” said Coach Willie Harrison of Mount Tabor. “I thought we outplayed them at both ends. Even though we had some foul trouble, we executed very well on defense.”

Up until the fourth quarter, Reagan (18-4, 9-2 conference) never trailed by more than 8 points. The Raiders were forced to play catch-up because the Spartans owned the boards. Reagan rarely got off more than one shot per offensive possession. Mount Tabor, in the meantime, maintained its cushion by capitalizing on back-door lay-ups and offensive put-backs.

“Our kids battled and did what they were asked to do,” said Coach Jeff Noe of Reagan. “Not being able to rebound the ball really hurt us. I won’t say that our lack of size was the reason we lost. We just weren’t prepared to handle Mount Tabor’s size, and that’s on me. That’s my fault.”

Bond Craver gave Mount Tabor a big lift, scoring 16 of his team-high 23 points in the first half. Wilkins (16 points) and T.J. Stevens (15 points) turned in strong offensive performances in the second half.

Mount Tabor delivered the knock-out blow midway through the fourth quarter. Reagan had sliced the Spartans lead to 59-54.  It appeared that the Raiders would pull closer when Malik Miles darted to the basket on a drive.

But before Miles to get to the rim, he was stripped of the ball and Wilkins headed down-court in the opposite direction on the break. He finished with a finger-roll lay-up to push the lead back to 7 points (61-54). After that sequence, the Spartans pulled away to win comfortably by double digits.

Maverick LaRue provided much of the offensive spark for Reagan with a game-high 24 points. Miles added 13 points, Reynolds Craver followed with 11 and Trey McDaniel scored 10 points.

The Spartans managed to remain No. 1 in the CPC despite losing two starters. Point guard Jake Rutter and power forward Karron Jeter were recently moved up to the varsity. Rutter was the Spartans best shooter and Jeter served as a formidable factor in the lanes at both ends of the floor.

“We don’t have to depend on one or two players all the time,” said Harrison. “Bond Craver came ready to play against Reagan. In every game we’ve played this season, it’s been a different person who has gotten the job done. Our guys stepped up at the right time. That’s the name of the game.”


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Craig Greenlee

Craig Greenlee

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