Waiting just an hour or so away were the No. 3 ranked and unbeaten Tigers. Unfazed, Northcutt calmly watched the girls teams warm up.
“We’ve got this,” he said as he looked up. “It’s gonna be their first loss.”
The senior’s words couldn’t have been more prophetic as Northcutt and the Raiders toppled the Tigers 53-52 last Tuesday, Jan. 13 in Lynchburg. It was the signature win the Raiders sought all season and kept them squarely in the hunt for a spot in the upper half of the District 9-A standings.
Afterwards, Northcutt bound from the team’s lockerroom. He had but one thing to say: “I told you so,” he belted, with a big cheeky grin.
Indeed, Northcutt did predict the win, but it was anything but easy. The Raiders had to slow down the up-tempo Tigers, and they had to do so for all 32 minutes of the contest. Moore County did a magnificent job slowing down the pace and taking care of the ball.
The Raiders controlled the tempo and — with the exception of three key turnovers late in the game — managed to keep the fast-paced Fayetteville squad in check. While the Raiders had to make big free throws down the stretch to hang on to the win — a long three-pointer by Fayetteville’s James Keith at the buzzer that cut the final deficit to one point was futile — it was Moore County’s hot start that set the tone.
MCHS jumped out to a 17-9 lead in the first period, smacking the Tigers in the teeth early and putting the visitors on their heels thanks in part to a trey by Northcutt and six points by Jay Layman. But as expected the state’s third-ranked Class A team wouldn’t go away.
The Tigers held Moore County to two points in the second quarter — a lone bucket by senior Jordan Barrier — and closed the gap to one point, 19-18, at halftime. In the third quarter, Northcutt scored five, Layman netted four and the Raiders spread the ball around, scoring 15 points while hanging onto the lead 34-32.
Moore County extended the lead to six points midway through the fourth period and then shot 9-of-11 from the free throw line to stave off a City comeback. Blydge Farrar and Doran Noble each went 4-for-4 from the charity strip in the final frame.
Northcutt led the Raiders with a dozen points while making good on his pregame prediction. Layman added 11 and Farrar 10. Noble finished with eight, James Dougherty six, Barrier four and Montana Driver scored two off the bench.
—ROBERT HOLMAN, editor & publisher (email@example.com) @TheMooreCoNews