Murray County Indians peaking, one win from state

Murray County Indians peaking, one win from state

February 11th, 2016 by Lindsey Young in Sports - Preps

Murray County head coach Greg Linder directs the Indians between quarters. The Lakeview-Fort Oglethrope Warriors faced the Murray County Indians in GHSA District 6-AAA basketball tournament at Ringgold High School on Feb. 10, 2016.

Photo by Robin Rudd /Times Free Press.

Gallery: Indians peaking, one win from state

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RINGGOLD, Ga. — As Murray County boys basketball coach Greg Linder told his team prior to opening play at the Region 6-AAA basketball tournament Wednesday, it doesn't matter how pretty the game is as long as you win.

The Indians overcame 18 turnovers and a poor-shooting night to clip Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 43-39 and move within one win of making the state tournament. The Indians, 10-16 and winners of four of their past six games, will face North Murray in one of today's quarterfinals at Ringgold.

"We're playing pretty good right now," Linder said. "We're defending well and we're playing hard. We've kind of jelled as a team of late, and I'm excited about where we are right now. This was a good start for us."

The sloppy game was tied at 20 at halftime but six quick Murray points — four off Jordan Jackson's short jumpers — seized control early in the third. A 5-0 run later pushed the lead to 33-25, and the Warriors were on the ropes.

However, seven consecutive fourth-quarter points from Noah Harris, including two 3-pointers, pulled LFO within two, and when Tristen Bennett hit a layup with 2:09 to play, the game was tied at 37.

Linder, instead of calling timeout, called for a quick post-up from Braden Weaver.

The big man delivered for his only points of the night.

"Late in the game they seemed to be playing out on our perimeter players more, and it opened up some things inside," Linder said. "Braden Weaver had a big bucket for us there after they tied us, and we took whatever momentum they had right back."

The Warriors missed a 1-and-1 free throw, and the Indians responded with another post-up shot, this time from Wyatt Stuckey, whose short jumper increased the lead to four. LFO missed a pair of 3-pointers down the stretch as Murray held on.

Tucker Humble was the only Indian in double figures with 10 points, though nine Murray players scored. Stuckey and Jackson had eight points each, with Stuckey adding seven rebounds.

Harris led LFO with 12 points, with Zach Thompson adding 11. Point guard Jordan Pickett had just six after missing a good portion of the second half with four fouls.

"Pickett's done a good job at point for us this year and it really hurt us having to sit him with four fouls in the second half," said veteran LFO coach Jerry Jones. "I felt our strength would be inside, and most of the time we got the ball inside to Thompson we scored, but we had 16 turnovers, and we can't do that because we're never going to score a bunch.

"Hey, we'll try again for the 52nd time next year. I'm not ready to hang it up just yet."

Also Wednesday in 6-AAA, the LFO girls advanced with a 38-36 win over Coahulla Creek and the Adairsville girls downed Gordon Central, 62-53. The Adairsville-Sonoraville boys game was still in progress at deadline.

In today's quarterfinals, the LFO and Sonoraville girls will play at 4, followed by the North Murray and Murray boys, the North Murray and Adairsville girls and the Ringgold boys vs. the winner of Adairsville-Sonoraville.

* The Region 7-AAAA tournament at Southeast Whitfield was postponed for the second consecutive day Wednesday. As a result, six games are on tap today, beginning at 1 with a pair of play-in boys' games. The winners of those games will have to play another game later today.

* The Region 7-AA tournament at Chattooga was also delayed again. The four boys' games scheduled will be played today, which was originally set as an off day.

Contact Lindsey Young at lyoung@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6296. Follow him on Twitter @youngsports22.


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