RINGGOLD, Ga. - It's not true that Jordan Ransom's nickname is The Vulture, but many more nights like Monday and the Ringgold junior might just have to live with it.
Ransom scored a career-best 24 points as the Tigers outlasted Region 5-AAA rival North Murray, 67-56, with most of the points coming on uncontested layups set up by the hard-charging Ringgold guards. The 6-foot-2 forward scored 12 of his points in the final period as the Mountaineers were trapping in the backcourt while trying to rally.
"Hey, they left me open all night and our guards did a great job of getting me the ball," Ransom said. "That's what you have to do against a press like that. We nearly let them back in it."
The win moves Ringgold (15-7, 9-3) closer to clinching a state playoff berth. The Tigers need only to win one of their two remaining league games this week to earn the region's No. 2 tournament seed, which would give them a bye into the semifinal round and guarantee a top-four finish and state berth.
The Tigers nearly put the game away in the third period, building a 38-17 lead on a Ransom free throw two minutes into the quarter, but North Murray coach Tim Ellis pulled his starters and the new on-court group started a rally. Jordan Couch hit a 3-pointer and Alex Viars followed with five consecutive points to keep the Mountaineers (13-8, 5-6) within shouting distance.
The period ended with Ringgold up 12, and the lead was still 14 when Couch caught fire in the fourth, scoring eight points during a 10-2 run that cut the lead to eight with 2:50 to play. Ransom, though, hit a layup and moments later had two more off feeds from Zach Lovain and Kile Sholl to end the suspense.
"North Murray plays really hard and they're very aggressive, so we know what to expect from them," Ringgold coach Greg Elkins said. "We kind of took the foot off the accelerator and let them back in, but having so many seniors and juniors on the team, we were able to keep it together and get some stops.
"We beat the press real well in the fourth quarter and got some easy baskets, which is something you have to do when a team is overplaying you that much. Jordan did exactly what we wanted him to do, and he had a career night without having to work too hard for the points."
Sholl added 12 points, with Dakota Baer and Joey Roach getting 10 each for the Tigers, while Couch topped North Murray with 20.
Contact Lindsey Young at email@example.com or at 423-757-6296.