Tuesday, November 24, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Robinson held back by Falcons

Leader sportswriter

The Falcons held off Pulaski Robinson’s second-half rally to win the seventh-place game of the North Pulaski Invitational by the final score of 44-38 Saturday at the Falcons’ Nest.

It looked as though North Pulaski (2-2) had the potential to win by mercy rule after a quarter of play. The Falcons held an 18-4 lead at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was more balanced, but the Falcons maintained their double-digit cushion at halftime, leading 27-15.

The Senators (0-5) were without six players Saturday, because those players are still taking part in football activities. All six of those players will be in the team’s rotation once their football season ends.

Robinson had a total of seven players at Saturday’s game, but still managed to make it a game in the second half. The first points of the second half were scored on a Braxton McKinney baseline jumper on the first possession of the half.

That gave the Falcons a 29-15 lead, but the Senators controlled the rest of the third quarter. Robinson made five of its first seven shots of the quarter, the last of which was a 3-pointer by Xavier Casey, which cut the NP lead to 31-26 with 4:28 left in the third.

Casey drained another three on the next Robinson possession, which made it a four-point game with the score 33-29. By the end of the quarter, the Falcons’ lead was down to 35-33.

The Falcons, though, opened the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run to push their lead to 42-33. That run started with a McKinney three at the 6:49 mark and ended with a two-hand slam in transition by 6-foot-5 sophomore center Christian White.

Robinson once again made it a four-point game by the midway point of the final quarter, with the score 42-38, but the only other points the rest of the game came on a one-handed floater by North Pulaski’s Brandon Shirnes with 2:40 remaining.

“When we jumped out ahead, I think we got a little relaxed instead of really putting more and more pressure on them,” said North Pulaski coach Roy Jackson.

“Coach (Anwar) Hardin did a good job of getting his boys to start chopping away at our lead, but I think at the end our boys showed some patience and perseverance, and really closed out the game like we go over in practice all the time.

“It goes back to our practice regimen. I try to put them in situations like that. When you’re ahead and somebody comes back on you, what are you going to do? Just slow down, run your offense, be patient, and play tough defense and rebound. And that’s what we did at the end. We closed out the game like we should have.”

North Pulaski finished the game 16 for 38 from the floor for 42 percent. Robinson was 14 for 42 from the floor for 33 percent. Each team had only one free-throw attempt in the second half, but the Falcons finished the game 7 for 9 from the line, and the Senators finished 8 for 10.

From 3-point range, NP made 5 of 11 attempts and Robinson made just 2 of 12. The Falcons outrebounded the Senators 21-19, and each team committed 21 turnovers.

McKinney led NP with 15 points. White added 10 points, eight rebounds and six blocks for the Falcons.

Casey led all scorers with 16 points. Robinson’s Traez Gibson was the only other player to score in double figures. He added 10 points.

North Pulaski won’t play again until Dec. 8 at home against Wynne.