Northside Christian Warriors cruise past ACS in district opener

NEW IBERIA – The Northside Christian Warriors used a stingy defense and a balanced offensive attack to coast to a 68-34 road victory over Assembly Christian Tuesday.

The Warriors’ pressure defense forced the Lions into 33 turnovers on the night, most of which resulted in easy baskets in transition.

“We know, especially heading down the stretch, that defense is going to get it done,” said NCS coach Byron Starks following the victory that sent his team to 18-7 on the season and 1-0 in district play. “When you look at teams that have won championships, they all play solid defense.

“I’ve been stressing that and the guys are buying into that. We just try to work hard, stop ball penetration and guard the 3-point line.”

Northside’s defense was superb in the first half as the Warriors limited the Lions to just 14 points.

However, the bulk of those points were scored on second-chance baskets, something Starks was not pleased with.

“We always talk about winning the battle on the boards against every team, not just this team,” said Starks. “We didn’t do that early on. I don’t know what the numbers were, but I know they (ACS) were getting their hands on a lot of balls and that was because we were doing more jumping and we weren’t blocking out well.”

Blocking out wasn’t a problem for Northside in the second half. The Warriors limited the Lions to just one shot when they did get the ball down the court and took control of the game by going on a 21-0 run in the first six minutes of the third quarter.

“It’s all about competing,” said Starks of the third-quarter run. “If you look at our squad, we have more talent than Assembly, but the most important thing is that we compete and give our best effort. When you do that, good things come out of it and that’s what happened in the third quarter.”

The Lions’ scoring drought ended with just under two minutes to go in the frame when Darion O’Banion sank a 3-pointer to cut NCS’ advantage to 55-17.

The Warriors’ reserves, who hit the court midway through the third quarter, finished out the game and were outscored 15-9 in the final frame.

Pierce Rivera and Ben Rogers paced the Warriors with 21 and 11 points, respectively, despite seeing limited action in the second half. Rivera also had four steals and one block.

“Pierce and Ben have done a good job for us throughout the season,” said Starks, whose squad played host to Lafayette Christian last night. “They are very consistent and their leadership on and off the court has been a good example. Tonight was a good night for them to get out, get a good workout in and also get a little rest in because we are playing again tomorrow.”

Nick Gotte followed Rivera and Rogers with eight points and Josh Wheeler scored six. Gotte also pulled down 11 rebounds and blocked one shot while Wheeler had six boards, four assists and six steals.

Grant Williams contributed with five points and four steals while BJ Starks and Joe Trahan each had four points. Kade Miller, Kaleb Clement, Nathan Zeller and Nick Zaunbrecher each added two points and Randy LeBleu rounded out the Warriors’ scoring with one point.

“We’ve put together a nice little streak,” said Starks, whose squad has now won six straight games. “But the main thing I’m pleased with is being able to win on the road. Going into the playoffs, something I’m stressing to the team is playing hard and winning on the road because I know at one particular time we’ll have to go on the road.”

Northside has a bye date Friday and will return to action Tuesday when they play host to ACS. The Warriors will close out the regular season the following Friday with a home contest against Westminster.

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