Rutland boys basketball head coach Ron Christian preaches a fairly simple message to his team.
He wants to force at least 20 turnovers a game, pressure the basketball and push the ball up court, and last of all to finish the game strong.
The Hurricanes did a little better in those areas Saturday against crosstown rival Northeast, forcing 32 turnovers with constant pressure in a 76-69 win.
Timori Northcutt was one of four Hurricanes players in double figures, leading the way with 18 points, while Jeremy Braswell had 17, Ty’lik Evans 15 and Dallas Smith 14.
“We knew coming in that Northeast would be a great challenge for us, and it seems like any time we play a rival game like this it is always close,” Christian said. “We did not shoot the ball like we usually do, but we just had to turn up the pressure on them a little bit more. Beating Southwest and Northeast in the same weekend is a tough thing to do, but the kids know the importance of winning these rivalry games.”
Evans came into the game needing only 12 points to set the career scoring mark for Rutland, but he struggled from the field, hitting only 5-of-22 field goal attempts. But he managed to eclipse Jaylon Tyson’s former mark of 1,272 points early in the third quarter.
The rest of Evans’ game was strong, with nine rebounds, six steals, and five assists.
Rutland (15-1) opened up an early 15-8 lead behind eight points from Northcutt, but Northeast battled back to tie it up at 18 at the end of the first quarter. Rutland stretched the lead to 35-24 late in the second quarter, but Northeast, led by Brandon Hill, who ended the game with 20 points and 14 rebounds, cut the lead to 36-30 at the half.
Northeast came out and scored the first seven points of the third quarter and took the lead on a Santez Kinder basket, but Rutland went on a 10-2 run to take a 46-39 lead midway through the quarter.
Northeast trailed 60-52 heading into the fourth quarter but answered once again, trimming the lead to 64-63 with five minutes left. Chris Spencer, who scored 20 points for the Raiders, scored five points during that run but fouled out a minute later.
Braswell hit a 3-pointer for the Hurricanes to push the lead to 67-63, but Northeast got the lead down to one point at 70-69 with 1:20 left. Northcutt and Evans, however, both hit two free throws to put the game away.
“What you saw has been the story of our season so far,” Northeast head coach Kevin Grooms said. “We play great basketball at times but have not been able to put an entire game together.
“We are not happy with the 5-10 record, because we all believe that we are much better than that. But we have continued to get better as the year goes by, and I feel like we will be tough to beat when the region tournament comes around.”
Rutland won the girls game 49-20, with Destiny White scoring 16 points for the Hurricanes.