LINDEN — Southmont hit free throws down the stretch, and took advantage of North Montgomery’s misses — gutting out a 49-45 county road win on Friday night.
The Mounties (1-2, 1-0 SAC) connected on 10-of-16 from the line in the game, including 6-of-10 in the final quarter, while the Chargers (1-1, 0-1 SAC) were 4-of-7 in the final eight minutes, and just 8-of-20 for the game.
Avery Saunders twice stepped to the line, and knocked down both shots in the fourth quarter — including a pair with 51.6 seconds left that pushed the Mounties lead to 46-43, and another with 14.6 seconds left to ice the game.
“It was huge for us to knock down those free throws at the end,” Southmont coach Jake Turner said. “Avery Saunders — he’s only going to continue to get better. I was really proud of him in the way he stepped to the line with confidence, and knocked down those free throws at the end.”
The sophomore reached double-figures with 10 points, while fellow sophomore Logan Oppy led the Mounties with 13.
Southmont held a 32-27 lead heading into the final period, but Logan Kelly gave the Chargers a spark and their first lead of the second half with back-to-back 3-pointers to start the fourth. Carson Chadd responded on the other end with two-straight Southmont buckets to put the Mounties back on top, and they never trailed again.
“Carson (Chadd) had two huge buckets,” Turner said. “He’s a competitor, and he’s not going to be afraid of the moment, and that’s huge for a freshman.”
Chadd scored all six of his points in the final eight minutes.
After a dominating performance in the paint and on the boards in their season-opening win over Speedway, the Chargers struggled to find an inside presence, and lost the rebounding battle 32-22.
“Sometimes movement, sometimes we were running sets, and they were trying to dig deep in,” first-year Chargers coach Chad Arnold said about their offensive struggles. “We just have to reverse it to the next guy and move on to that next play.”
Kobel led the Chargers with 13 points, while Jaron Bradford added 10, including a pair of triples.
Arnold felt like his team played hard, but just wasn’t quite enough in the end.
“I’m really proud of our guys, they played hard,” he said. “We should have gotten to some of those 50/50 balls, but missing a lot of free throes killed us too. Give them credit. They’re real long and athletic, and they’ve got some young guys – they’re going to be a really good team.”
Churning out a top-notch defensive performance helped lead to the Mounties first win.
“I think we had three keys to the game,” Turner said. “Points in the paint, we wanted to keep them out of the paint, and I thought this was the best job we’ve done of all year. We wanted to be plus 10 on the boards, and we wanted to be patient. The way we helped in the post was unbelievable,” “We worked on it in practice, but today was the best that it’s looked all week. And that really comes down to effort and focus. I thought this was the most engaged we’ve been defensively all season.”
North Montgomery is back on the floor tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Fountain Central, while Southmont travels to Cloverdale.