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Thursday, January 9, 2014
Malik Dunbar made sure the North Augusta High School basketball team went into the break with a W.
Dunbar scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half – including three 3-pointers – and led the Jackets (10-3) to a 57-48 win over Cross Creek on the road.
“I just had to get myself together from the first half, I was knocking down easy shots I knew I could make, instead of rushing I took my time,” he said. “I tried to observe my defender and see how he was guarding me and try to take what he gave me.”
Dunbar was joined in double-digits by Chandler Harrison, who had 16 points, and Jaquez Smith, who had 13.
“It was a tough win, that’s all I can say about that,” Smith said. “I feel like my play on the court is determined by how the game is going.”
Head coach Al Young said he thought the team got off to a good start, but was a little rusty.
“We got out of our offense a little bit, but then we came back in the second half and settled in,” he said. “I felt we were kind of pressing a little bit and trying to make our offense happen instead of running through our offense and letting the flow take care of itself. We just have to continue to play and get better. I think we played well defensively, though we need to do a better job at boxing out. I think we rebounded well sometimes, but we didn’t box out too well and that’s a concern of mine.”
A difference maker for Young on the defensive end was starting center Victor Johnson. There were a number of blocks that Johnson had standing flat-footed and just letting his long wingspan take care of the rest.
“I think he does a tremendous job of standing straight up and letting the ball go where it may,” Young said. “He doesn’t force anything or create a foul on himself. I thought he did a super job and he’s done that well for us all year.”
Smith drew the start for Young’s squad at guard in the game. Keyon West drew a number of starts before the break, but Young has been known to play matchups.
“I just wish I could get him to settle in a little bit and not commit himself to things,” Young said. “He’s a small guy among those big kids, so he’s at a disadvantage sometimes. I think if he can get in there and kick it out or find someone down low, then he will be freed up a little bit more.”
In addition to Dunbar’s three 3s, Smith also had one and the Jackets shot well from beyond the arc.
“It was good to be able to see Malik be able to knock down those 3s,” Young said. “They were critical and came at very important times.”
Coming up, the Jackets will have a layoff until their region showdown with Lexington at home on Jan. 14.
“We talked about getting momentum going into the region and finishing strong,” Young said. “We wanted that momentum and we can’t take it the wrong way. We just need to hit the gym and work real hard. I think this time off will let us get in there and work on some things that we aren’t doing so well right now.”
Scott Rodgers is the news editor at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter @NAStarRodgers.