Pinecrest Academy's boys basketball team entered Thursday's matchup against No. 5 King's Ridge eyeing an upset.
The Paladins scored nine of the first 11 points but only four of the final 22 points, falling to their Region 6-1A Private foe 55-35.
"You've got to score more than 35 points," Pinecrest head coach Jay Lynch said. "At halftime, Oscar [Lynch] had 18 out of 20. So, we went in and we said, 'Hey, Oscar can't shoot all the shots.' The third quarter was pretty solid. We were running stuff away from that and Nick [Bohn] got some buckets. I thought we got some good open looks for our shooters, but they weren't going down. In the fourth quarter, we scored four points."
Pinecrest raced out to a 9-2 lead in the first quarter, but Liam Thomas knocked down a 3-pointer and added a bucket on the following possession to inch the Tigers within two points. Seconds later, Micah Hoover stole the ball at midcourt and threw down a two-handed dunk to tie the game with three minutes left in the quarter.
Isaac Martin drained a 3-pointer right before the end of the quarter to give King's Ridge a 14-11 lead and mark the final lead change of the game.
Oscar Lynch scored all 11 of the Paladins' first-quarter points and finished with a game-high 24 points.
Joe Frain's layup 16 seconds into the second quarter marked the first points scored by a Pinecrest player other than Lynch.
With just over two minutes left in the half, Lynch managed to shake Hoover near the corner, then corralled a pass from Nick Bohn and knock down the corner three to make it a 21-20 game.
But that's as close as the Paladins got to tying the game, as back-to-back threes by Hoover and Martin fueled an 8-0 run to close the half and give King's Ridge a 29-20 lead at halftime.
Hoover led the Tigers with 20 points.
"I thought Micah made it hard for [Lynch]," Lynch said. "The refs let him play real physical, and Micah's bigger than him and bumped him a little bit. That kind of wears him out over time, too."
Pinecrest developed a more balanced offensive approach after halftime, as Bohn scored a couple of open layups at the hoop and knocked down a free throw to take some attention off Lynch.
However, King's Ridge outscored the Paladins 14-4 in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
With 4:51 left in the game, Martin forced a steal and took it all the way to the hoop. Martin missed the layup, but Hoover came directly behind, snagging the offensive rebound and throwing down a thunderous dunk to set off the student section and give the Tigers a 49-33 lead.
Lynch nailed perhaps the shot of the season in the fourth, lobbing a desperation shot while crouched down with his back toward the basket, somehow getting the shot to fall.
Pinecrest [9-8, 2-6 Region 6-1A Private] will host Mount Pisgah at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
King's Ridge 42, Pinecrest Academy 23
Pinecrest's girls basketball team found points tough to come by Thursday in a 42-23 loss to King's Ridge.
Fiamma Delbalzo's free throw with 3:29 left in the first quarter marked Pinecrest's first points of the game, as the Paladins managed to play the Tigers even for much of the opening frame. Midway through the quarter, Kate Prados fought to grab a tough offensive rebound, dribbled out to the perimeter and knocked down a 3-pointer to trim King's Ridge's lead to two points.
However, it was the final 3-pointer of the game for Pinecrest, which struggled to find an offensive groove against the Tigers.
Three-point opportunities were available for Pinecrest with King's Ridge opting to pack the lane and deny the Paladins easy baskets.
"I think tonight they just wanted to make it tough, and when you're having a tough shooting night, that's what happens," Pinecrest girls basketball coach Jonathan Oshinski said. "We tried to get into the rim, and I think we were able to get there, but even when we got inside it was hard to get a bucket, get some layups; we missed some free throws. It was just one of those nights. It's tough and frustrating, but that's where I say, 'Let's see where our fight is.' Fortunately, we have a group of girls that want to fight, and they're going to play four quarters tough."
One of those players was Delbalzo, a freshman guard whose crossover early in the second quarter trimmed the deficit to four points. She also laid in a dazzling basket in the third quarter off a eurostep.
"Obviously, she's still learning, but if you want to talk about another one of those pieces," Oshinski said. "Just on any given night, she's been able to come in and is an aggressive defender and is able to get her hands on balls and she's able to get some nice finishes inside. When she gets going, it certainly helps us on the offensive end."
Despite the loss, Pinecrest has won seven of its past nine games, including a 43-34 win against Mt. Bethel on Saturday.
Oshinski said a multitude of different players have been responsible for that streak, including Prados, Aryn Spain and Colleen Sullivan.
"We've had a lot of different players be successful," Oshinski said. "One game it's Kate Prados, she came out and she scored our first eight points and that was able to really get us going. Other games it's getting the ball in to Aryn Spain to be able to drive the rim and finish strong. Colleen Sullivan's had a lot of really great games being able to work her inside and finish and get some offensive rebounds. We've just got a lot of girls that have been doing a lot of really good things, and I think it's that team-oriented [quality] that's been able to help."
Spain led the Paladins with nine points and a couple of blocks on the defensive end of the court.
Sullivan came alive in the second half for the Paladins, pulling down seven rebounds, including a putback basket early in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Pinecrest had no answer for King's Ridge point guard Bella Martin, who dropped 27 points and guided the Tigers' second-half explosion with 14 points after halftime.
Pinecrest [7-6, 2-3 Region 6-1A Private] will host Mount Pisgah at 3 p.m. Saturday.