DURHAM – Northern beat Voyager 75-42 on Monday in a non-conference game that had enough tension about it in the Vikings' tight, raucous gym to where it seemed closer than what the final score reflected.
About two minutes into the game, Northern’s Ricky Council II rose up and dunked on every Viking who was in the paint to give the Knights a 6-0 lead that they never relinquished.
Council was Northern’s main man last season, and that hasn’t changed this time around, but he appears to have more scorers around him this year.
“We’ve got several guys that can put up some points, and he does a good job looking for them, too,” Northern coach Ronnie Russell said.
Northern’s Kentrell Barkley led all scorers with 17 points. Jaquan Harris and Council had 14 points apiece for the Knights. Northern’s Kourtney Farrow also was in double figures with 10 points.
The Knights got too cute for Russell’s liking when a Northern player threw the ball off the backboard for Council, who couldn’t flush it.
“It ain’t about looking pretty; it’s about finishing. Plus, you can get somebody hurt doing that,” Russell said. “Every now and then you can do it, but I don’t like to see it.”
The Vikings are in their third season of varsity basketball and looked like some guys who knew what they wanted to do but just needed a few more athletes to pull it off against Northern, a 4-A school in the PAC-6.
Voyager, a charter school that opened in 2007, is competing in the 1-A/2-A Carolina 12 Conference with no seniors. This is the first season that Voyager has had juniors.
“Last year, we had only freshman and sophomores playing a varsity schedule, and we took our bumps,” Voyager coach Patrick Walton said.
But Walton said he’d never use any of that as an excuse.
Northern’s defensive pressure early on kept the Vikings from doing what they like to do on offense, Walton said.
But the Vikings settled down, and Voyager sophomore point guard Gary Ford began to impact the game.
“Tonight was a big night for Gary Ford. He did a little bit of growing up,” Walton said.
Ford, coming off a 21-point game, led Voyager with 9 points against Northern.
“Now we just need to get it where he can continue to facilitate and everybody else is on the same page,” Walton said.
The Vikings had some scrap about them.
In the fourth period, Northern was up 57-32 when Council broke loose for another potential dunk, but Voyager big man Jay Huff caught up with him and got a piece of the ball to keep it from going down.
Huff also got a piece of Council’s body, sending him to the free-throw line, where he made one of two attempts.
Huff showed some range, too, knocking down two 3-pointers. He was Voyager’s second top scorer with 6 points.
Northern 75, Voyager 42
Northern – 16-25-14-20-75
Voyager – 8-8-14-12-42
NORTHERN –T.J. Crutchfield 8, Ryan Arundale 8, Jaquan Harris 14, Isaiah Townsend 2, Marcellus Allison 2, Ricky Council II 14, Kourtney Farrow 10, Kentrell Barkley 17
VOYAGER – Gary Ford 9, Charlie Stone 5, Patrick Lester 3, Diante Parker 2, Tyler Trout 4, Keels Jones 4, Christopher Sause 5, Jay Huff 6, Coltyn Faucette 4
Records – Northern 3-2, Voyager 1-2
Northern girls roll to win
Northern went on the road and took care of Voyager 56-12 on Monday.
The Lady Knights didn't take long to find their range from downtown, and this one got out of hand in a hurry.
Northern’s McKenzie Utley hit two 3-pointers toward leading the Lady Knights with 10 points.
Nicole Cruchfield had 9 points for Northern, and Lady Knights freshman Rhiana Council had 8 points.
At the 4:49 mark in the third period, the head coaches for both teams got together with an official and decided to keep the clock running in order to move the game along, giving the reserves an opportunity to get in some work.
Northern coach Pam Adams said it was good to get all of her players some floor time. The Lady Knights were able to work on some things, Adams said.
Voyager coach Santina Ford said her young, inexperienced team is going through growing pains.
Northern 56, Voyager 12
NORTHERN – Jakia Dixon 6, Ashlyn Scoggins 5, Zuri White 4, Brittany Whitaker 2, Mekaila Shaw 5, Nicole Crutchfield 9, Rhiana Council 8, McKenzie Utley 10, Mohargany Jones 3, Lauren Carroll 4
VOYAGER – Taylor Little 2, Sydney Dixon 6, Nia White 4
Northern - 19-25-6-6
Voyager – 2-4-4-2
Records – Northern 3-0, Voyager 1-2