Young Bland County squad puts scare into Northwood
Bland County (0) Vs. Northwood (0)
Dec 11, 2015
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
ROCKY GAP, Va. — Bland County started five freshmen on Friday night. By the end of the game, they didn’t play like freshmen.
An experienced Northwood High School unit held off the Bears for a 67-61 victory, but not before Bland County cut a 15-point lead by the visitors to two in the closing minutes in the gym at Rocky Gap.
Northwood (3-1) head coach Gerald Ward said, “We told our boys before we came into this gym, when you come play at Bland, it’s never going to be easy, it’s never going to be a blowout, it’s going to be a dogfight, right down to the end. It kind of met the expectations.”
Bland County (1-2) held the lead for most of the first quarter, but let the Panthers get to the free throw line where they made 8 of 13 attempts in the initial period alone.
Meanwhile, the visitors’ 2-3 zone defense dried up the Bears’ attack.
Bland County went scoreless for almost seven minutes on the first-half clock. In that span, they missed 10 field-goal tries, allowed Northwood to grab eight defensive rebounds, and committed five turnovers.
The Panthers pumped their lead up to 32-17 in the final minute of the first half on back-to-back baskets by Landon Dinsmore.
Bland County’s Ethan Cook had the last word before the break, however, connecting on a long-distance trey at the buzzer to produce a 32-20 halftime score as the home fans roared.
The turnaround continued for the Bears after intermission. Jacob Cross took over in the paint, scoring nine points in the first six minutes of the second half to help the home squad trim the deficit to 47-39.
Ward said, “The first half defensively, we went into a zone, and played very, very good zone. ... In the second half, they made excellent adjustments.”
Bland County head coach Rich Hankins said, “You’ve got to give Northwood a lot of credit. That 2-3 zone in the first half gave us a fit. But we found our rhythm in the second half and gained a little confidence, and made a ballgame of it.”
“At halftime we really talked about getting the basketball to the inside offensively, and maybe putting some pressure on them, so we could get to the foul line a little bit.”
Cross said, “We came out with a lot of energy, trying to keep them out of the paint. I couldn’t ask for any better.”
He said about his rebounding, “I just had to be more physical. I had to think that every ball was going to be mine.”
Substituting often, the Bears improved on their offensive rebounds, pulled off three steals in the third quarter alone, and whittled down the scoring margin further.
A steal by Cross helped initiate an 8-2 Bland County scoring run, ending with Dylan Townley’s 3-pointer from the right corner that cut the Panthers’ lead to 60-58 with 1:18 to go.
With 18 seconds remaining and Northwood ahead 63-58, the Bears’ Patrick Christian got an offensive rebound, put the ball in the hoop and was fouled in the process. He converted the free throw to again cut the lead to two points, 63-61.
That was Bland County’s final hurrah, though. The Panthers made 7 of 8 from the foul line in the final minute to seal the win.
Hankins said that Northwood is “a veteran team. They played well down the stretch, after we got them rattled a little bit.”
The final boxscore showed Northwood making 29 of 44 free throws while Bland County was 6 for 7.
Ward said, “First game of the year, we were 6 for 29 at the free throw line. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on (free throws) lately. They’ve worked hard at it and gotten better at it. It made the difference tonight.”
Christian scored nine points with eight rebounds, two assists and a steal. Jacob Watters had 12 points and four steals. Cross was the game’s top scorer with 17 points. Watters and Cross both fouled out late in a game in which BC committed 27 personals.
Dinsmore had 15 points, eight rebounds and four steals for the Panthers. Eric Doane contributed 11 points, 10 boards and a block. Chris Greer went 9 for 12 at the line and had 13 points. Tyler Young netted 16 points.
Hankins said about the young Bears, “I’m just extremely proud of them. They battled, the second half in particular, and they never gave up. I mean, they could have packed it in in the first half once we got down by double digits.
“We had a chance to win it in the end, so that says a lot about their character,” the coach said. “I really and truly believe they’re going to be fine, especially toward the end of the season.”
Cross said, “I think it’s going to make us stronger, playing the way we did against a good team like that.”
“We’re going to come out Monday to practice and play twice as hard.”
The Bears next play Eastern Montgomery on Tuesday in Rocky Gap.
— Contact Tom Bone at

At Rocky Gap
T.J. Roberts 0 2-4 2, Chris Greer 2 9-12 13, Eric Doane 4 3-6 11, Tyler Young 5 6-8 16, Landon Dinsmore 5 5-8 15, Skylar Call 2 3-4 7, Will Tuell 1 1-2 3. Totals 19 29-44 67.
Patrick Christian 4 1-1 9, John Bright 1 2-2 4, Dylan Townley 3 0-0 8, Jacob Cross 7 3-4 17, Zane Cunningham 1 0-0 2, Jacob Watters 5 0-0 12, Ethan Cook 3 0-0 9. Totals 24 6-7 61.
Northwood................14 18 16 19 — 67
Bland County............11 9 22 19 — 61
3-point goals — NHS, none. BC 7 (Townley 2, Watters 2, Cook 3). Total fouls — NHS 12, BC 27. Fouled out — BC, Cross, Watters. JV game — Northwood won.
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Bland County 0 0 0 0 0 0
Northwood 0 0 0 0 0 0
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