Hilltoppers suffer second loss to Titans
McDowell was just too big and too fast for the undersized R-S Central Hilltoppers team Friday night at The Palace in Rutherfordton.
The Titans (5-0) dominated the glass and handed Central (4-2) there second loss of the season (both to McDowell) by a final of 71-62.
“There size was a big factor and difference in this game. They were just able to get position and get the ball inside.” Central head coach Greg Wright said following the defeat. “They were able to get the ball in the paint and I thought we did a lot better job tonight competing against there size than we did last time when we lost 87-52.”
Each team came out running on all cylinders.
McDowell had early success down low but Rashaun Whitesides poured in seven early points to tie the game at 9-9 with 3:30 left in the first quarter.
The Hilltoppers couldn’t find an answer on the boards or in the post during the early going and McDowell owned a 15-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Jaylen Hollis snapped a 7-0 run by McDowell to open the second quarter with a spin move and a layup in the post but the Titans just kept running.
A 7-3 run by McDowell was answered with a 10-2 run by Central to cut the lead to 31-26.
Jay Blanton seemingly drained his third three-pointer in 30 seconds at the buzzer but it was waived off and Central went into the break in a five-point hole, 31-26.
It only took two minutes for Central to cut the lead to just two at 33-31.
McDowell responded with three consecutive thee point shots to restore their lead to 42-33.
The Titans continued to run and held a 15-point lead at one point before the Hilltoppers scored a few of their own as the third quarter ended with the Titans on top, 55-44.
In the fourth the Hilltoppers found their stroke from long range.
Deep threes from Shawn Hines, Blanton and Norman Aiken cut the deficit to just six at 59-53 with just under six minutes left in the game.
The three makes may have made Central a little over-confident as they continued to jack-up shots from outside but couldn’t recreate their earlier success, until a Blanton three with 3:07 left made the game 63-56.
“I thought we took some shots that were not in rhythm and some were hurried shots,” said Wright. “We probably could have gotten some better looks if we were more patient.”
McDowell answered with another bucket in the post to stretch the lead back to nine before calling a timeout.
Blanton continued his shooting clinic with another three with 45 seconds left that cut the McDowell lead to just five, 67-62.
The Titans drained a handful of free throws to run out the clock and cap the scoring to travel home with the 71-62 victory.
“We’re just going to have to work on beating people to the spot,” Wright said about playing teams with such a size advantage. “We just don’t have the size to play behind people people.”
Blanton led the Hilltoppers with 22 points and seven assists.
Whitesides added 15 points and seven rebounds while Hollis added 13 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
“In the end this was a much better effort than a week and a half ago when they beat us badly,” Wright said. “Every time we got down double-digits we were able to come back and make it a game. We just didn’t have that last push to get us over the top.”
Central takes the hardwood next Tuesday, Dec. 11 when Crest makes the trip to Rutherfordton. Tipoff is scheculed for 7:30 p.m.