By Troy Treasure
Foul shooting and rebounding were two facets going for North Shelby Wednesday.
As a result, the Raiders punched a ticket into Saturday’s championship game of the North Shelby Tournament against No. 3 Scotland County at 7:30 p.m.
Kyle Smith scored 21 points as fourth-seed North Shelby defeated No. 1 seed Knox County 65-60.
Smith was 14 of 14 at the free-throw line. As a team, the Raiders were 28 of 33.
“Coach tries to pound it in our head every day that free throws win games,” Smith said.
Rob Uhlmeyer scored 18 points for NS. Brendyn McDaniel had 11.
Knox County’s Rylan Roberts tied the game 60-all with 1:13 remaining on a conventional three-point play.
J.D. Rich made a free throw at 1:08, Smith a pair at :35. Uhlmeyer forced a steal, was fouled and knocked down two.
Game. Set. Match.
The Raiders (8-5) went tit-for-tat with the Eagles (9-4) on the glass. Team rebounding was 25-25.
NS coach Landon Daniel admitted height would be nice, but not the end-all.
“Absolutely, I’d take a 6-3 kid any day of the week,” Daniel said. “Our defense and rebounding was huge. Our top two guys on our blocks were rotating well to where they couldn’t get the ball into the high post.
“We were going to settle for those role players to hit threes. They hit a couple of them, just not enough and we made sure we limited it to one shot per possession,” Daniel continued. “That was big.”
Trailing 12-10 after one period, North Shelby out-scored Knox County 27-11 in the second to lead 37-23 at the half-time break.
NS advanced to the semifinals with a 68-60 opening-round win Monday, Jan. 18 against five-seed South Shelby.