CHATSWORTH — The first time North Murray High School got a big lead, the Mountaineers watched rival Murray County thunder back.
When the ‘Neers got another, they held off several late counter-punches to keep it.
In front of a packed crowd at Murray County Tuesday night, North Murray (21-2) outlasted and avenged, returning the favor with a 70-60 win on Murray’s home floor after the Indians (10-12) handed the Mountaineers one of only two losses in its season at North Murray last month.
The win clinches a share of first place in Region 7-2A for North Murray. A coin flip awaits to decide if North Murray or Model will host the region tourney, with both finishing with 10-2 region records.
North Murray held on with a vise-like grip as Tad Stone, Avery Jones and the Indians tried to pry the game away late.
A huge third quarter saw the Mountaineers go from one down to 11 up after the frame.
In the fourth, first it was Stone, the Murray senior who recently returned after missing most of the season with a leg injury.
A stretch of six straight points from Stone got North Murray’s lead down to three.
Then North Murray answered, with five straight pushing the lead back to 57-49.
Jones hit a pair of big triples. North Murray’s Judson Petty answered with a bucket through a foul.
Gavin Pittman scored four straight to give North Murray an 11-point advantage.
Stone coaxed in another couple of late buckets to keep the Indians within striking distance, but Murray went without any points the final 2:21 of game time. Petty and Beau Ellis added free throws late to ice it.
With mid-range jumpers and bullish drives to the goal, Petty led the way for North Murray with his 21 points. 10 of those came in the fourth quarter with North Murray holding off the Murray rally.
Stone provided the scoring punch Murray had been lacking without the standout for most of the season. He finished with 23, with Jones scoring 14. The Indians, which had a shot to earn the top seed in the region tourney with a win Tuesday,are the third seed.
North Murray came out firing in the first quarter, hitting four 3-pointers en route to a 19-10 advantage after the first.
That’s when Murray thundered back the first time, with the Indians holding the high-powered Mountaineer attack to six in the second quarter and seizing a 26-25 lead by halftime.
After the ‘Neers finished with six points in the second, North Murray’s Skyler Williams scored six by himself just in the first minute of play in the third.
Williams finished with 12 points.
North Murray put together 27 points in the third quarter to earn the lead they wouldn’t give up.
Before the boys game, the Murray Lady Indians (18-4) had a much less dramatic victory over a cross-county rival.
Ella Dotson nearly matched the Mountaineers as her 20 points led Murray past North Murray (14-9) 54-22. The win completes an undefeated trek through Region 7-2A play for the Lady Indians. Murray is the top seed for the region tournament, which will be held at either North Murray or Model, depending on the result of a coin flip that will decide the top seed on the boys’ side.
After the two teams stayed stuck on 2-2 for a few first-quarter minutes, Murray closed with an 11-1 run to grab a 15-6 advantage after the first.
The Lady Indians held North Murray to just one field goal from the floor in the first half and led 32-10 at the break.
“Really our defense shined,” Murray head coach Chris Tipton said. “That’s our calling card is just playing good, solid defense.”
Dotson scored 14 of her points before halftime, and Murray’s starters played only a few minutes to start the third and fourth quarters. The Lady Indians led 47-16 after the third.
Mattie Nuckolls added eight for Murray.
Ava Robinette led the Lady Mountaineers with six.
Also in local basketball action on Tuesday:
Central-Carrollton 55, Northwest Whitfield 42
Northwest Whitfield (14-10) fell to Central-Carrollton (22-3) 55-42 Tuesday night in the final game of the regular season.
Caden Ramsey and Jackson Harris both scored nine for Northwest, and Braxton Floyd had eight.
The Bruins will play in the Region 7-4A tournament.
Coahulla Creek 64, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 57
Coahulla Creek (7-16) won its third straight game to end the regular season by knocking off Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (15-10) 64-57 Tuesday.
The Colts will compete in the Region 6-3A tournament.
Dalton 56, Woodland 40
Dalton (16-7) downed Woodland (2-22) 56-40 on the road Tuesday.
Chaz Ramsey scored 22 to lead the Catamounts, while Kobi Cooper scored nine and Drew Snyder put in seven.
The Catamounts play at Calhoun Friday night at 7:30 in the last game in the regular season.
Southeast Whitfield 66, Cedartown 48
Cal Rich scored 40, matched a Southeast Whitfield career record and led the Raiders (11-13) to a 66-48 win over Cedartown (0-21) Tuesday night.
Rich is now tied with former Raider Ty Pendley with 1,695 career points scored. He can set a new mark as the all-time leading scorer if he scores a single point when the Raiders host Cedartown again Tuesday in the first round of the Region 7-4A tournament.
Rich also added 17 rebounds as the Raiders locked up the third seed in the region tourney. Brayden Miles scored 13 and Skyler Pulliam scored eight.
Dalton 62, Woodland 25
Dalton (18-6) shut down Woodland (2-21) 62-25 Tuesday.
Dalton plays at Calhoun Friday night at 6 for the last game of the regular season.
Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe 51, Coahulla Creek 35
Coahulla Creek (14-10) lost to Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe (23-1) 51-35 Tuesday night.
The Lady Colts will compete in the Region 6-3A tournament.
Northwest Whitfield 53, Central-Carrollton 30
Northwest Whitfield (14-10) moved past Central-Carrollton (14-12) 53-30 Tuesday night to close out the regular season.
Kennedy Baker led the way with 16, while Sloan Pender put in 15.
Northwest will play in the Region 7-4A tourney.
Southeast Whitfield 32, Cedartown 23
Southeast Whitfield (5-18) earned a win over Cedartown (0-22) 32-23 Tuesday night.
Johanna Ortiz led Southeast with nine points, Danahi Reza had seven and Trinity Burse scored six.
The Lady Raiders are bound for the Region 7-4A tournament.
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