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Statement game: North beats Greenville, nears playoff berth
By Richard C. White, email@example.com
Some games are just easier than others.
The McKinney North boys basketball team had a wealth of riches at its disposal Tuesday night, as five different players scored in double digits to propel the Bulldogs to an 83-60 home win against district rival Greenville.
The victory was a bounce-back performance for the Bulldogs, who had lost their last two district games after winning the previous five before that.
North is now 7-3 in District 13-4A, while Greenville falls to 3-7. The Bulldogs are currently second in the district standings and control their own fate the rest of the way, with a playoff berth becoming more likely with each game.
The Bulldogs have four games remaining in the regular season, with tipoffs against Wylie East, Denison, Sherman and Royse City, teams they have all beaten in the first half of their district schedule.
"We got a one-game lead for the No. 2 spot and we hold the tiebreaker on everybody so far, except for Wylie and they still have to play a big game against Sherman and the district leader in Lovejoy," Craft said. "I like where we are. Our schedule is a little bit more favorable, but that's just on record, and they're all good teams."
Senior Bryson Brown had a game-high 17 for North, followed by 16 points from junior Collin Curran, 15 points from junior Kody Wilson, 12 points from junior Steele Douglas, and 10 points from Maliek Golden. Junior Jola Otubu also contributed with eight points on the night.
The Bulldogs also had great success from beyond the arc, as they sank a season-high 11 threes in the victory.
"We shot it well, we distributed it well, and we tried to find our teammates," Craft said. "That's the type of team you want to have."
North's offensive riches come without one of their key players, as the Bulldogs have had to play the last three games with junior guard Julion Pearre, who is sidelined with a leg injury and may not return this season.
"We haven't had him the last few games," Craft said, "and that's a big loss."
North led Greenville by five points after the first quarter, but wasn't able to gain any deeper separation beyond single digits until after the half.
North began to pull away in the third quarter, outscoring Greenville 24-10, to give the Bulldogs a 23-point lead heading into the fourth. The Bulldogs began the second half on a set play that pushed it out to Douglas, who knocked down a three in rapid fashion.
"That got us going," Craft said. "We scored 24 points there and knocked down four threes in that quarter. We took the will to fight out of Greenville there."
The two squads would trade buckets in equal measure in the final frame, with each scoring 26 points, as North's large cushion sealed its victory.
"I'll say it again, this was a big win for us," Craft said. "You got to take the game that's in front of you, because if not, then you find yourself on a two-game, then three-game and so on losing streak and then you're right down there in the tiebreaker game reaching for fourth place, so this was important."
North returns to action at 8 p.m. Friday at home against Wylie East, as the Bulldogs usher in the final two weeks of the regular season.
"When our mind's right and we want to go play, we can be pretty good," Craft said. "We are undersized, but we got some kids that will compete, kids that can flat-out stroke it and can get to the rim. If we continue to play like this, we'll stay where we need to be in the district race."
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