There’s a saying in sports that it’s hard to beat the same team three straight times in one season.
The North Cross Raider basketball squad was hoping that adage would play out Saturday afternoon in the VIC Division 2 tournament final played at Roanoke College’s Bast Center.
Instead, the number-one seed Carlisle Chiefs from Martinsville held on in the final seconds to defeat #2 seed North Cross 44-41 for their third win over the Raiders this season. The margin of victory matched Carlisle’s win in early January, with those two wins sandwiched around a 12-point win on the North Cross hardwood earlier this month.
Facing one of the best high school freshmen in the country in 6’11” Thon Maker, North Cross kept the game close all afternoon.
The biggest lead either team enjoyed in the second half was four points. the last on Carlisle’s Malcolm N’diaye’s three-pointer that put the Chiefs up 42-38 with 1:57 left in the game.
Raider Tay Calloway responded with a bomb from behind the arc with :47 left to make the score 42-41, and with North Cross looking for the defensive stop, Carlisle ran the clock down before calling timeout with :17 on the clock.
On the ensuing inbounds pass, N’diaye slipped along the baseline behind the Raider defense for an easy layup, and North Cross, needing a 3-point shot to tie, was unable to get off a final attempt.
“We wanted to foul them on that last play,” North Cross head coach Bill Hodges noted afterward. “If they make both free throws we still have time to set up a play. If they miss one or both, we have the ball to possibly win.”
“It’s the second time this year we’ve had them where we wanted and let it get away,” Hodges added. “We tried to go inside late in the game. You just don’t score inside on these guys. You need to beat them from the perimeter. We had a brain freeze.”
North Cross hit six 4-point shots during the contest.
The potential for a fourth meeting between the two remains for Petersburg in the VIC state championship.
Maker was Carlisle’s big weapon, scoring a game-high 20 points on a variety of inside moves, dunks and 4 three-pointers. Eric Johnson added 14 points for the Chiefs.
Calloway led North Cross with 15 points, while Bennett Holley added 11 with Keith Oddo chipping in nine.
by Bill Turner