The Northeast Raiders played a first half against Rutland on Tuesday night that was so strong that head coach Dartez Talbott couldn’t find anything negative to say in the locker room.
His team led 46-28 and had outscored the Hurricanes, who took the Raiders to overtime a week earlier, 17-4 through the middle part of the second quarter. Then his team almost gave it all back, being outscored 19-3 in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
The Raiders however, were able to regain control in the final three minutes of the quarter to breeze to a 76-59 win.
“We didn’t get a good warm-up coming into the third quarter,” Talbott said. “And I obviously did not get them mentally prepared to play at halftime. We had done so many good things in the first half, I really had problems doing anything but complimenting them. We got a little too complacent I think.”
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Rutland may have had something to do with that. Pressing and trapping every pass and getting solid play from Antwone Grayer and Austin Torrey, who both scored eight points during Rutland’s run, the Hurricanes cut the lead to four at 47-43 before junior guard Mike Palmer righted the ship with five straight points of his own. When Grayer fouled out seconds later, the Hurricanes had lost their leading scorer and were not able to climb any closer than 10 points the rest of the game.
Northeast had only one field goal in the fourth quarter but converted 15-of-16 free throws in the quarter. That was also a high point for Talbott.
“That’s what championship teams do in the fourth quarter,” he said. “That is what we are looking to be. We have high hopes for this team. We play with the same motto every night, which is to begin with the end in mind.”
Palmer, who had 18 points and 10 assists, said his team was able to maintain its focus throughout the Hurricanes’ run.
“Coach tells us every team is going to make runs against you,” Palmer said. “You just have to ride the wave. I am always looking to pass first, but I feel like if they leave me open, I can make shots. We have a lot of guys who can score on this team.”
A.J. Cornelius had 17 points for the Raiders, while Marvell Harris was a force in the paint with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
Torrey and Tevin Oliver led the way for Rutland with 14 points each.
Rutland’s girls took the opening game, defeating the Raiderettes 54-49. Rutland was in control midway through the fourth quarter with a 13-point lead, but Erica Travet scored eight points in an 11-3 run to make it a three-point game with 28 seconds left.
Shaketa Hodges, however, made four straight free throws to seal the win. Mercer signee Kendra Grant led Rutland with 23 points while Hodges added 15. Travet led Northeast with 16.