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Hickory Ridge runs past South Rowan’s boys

By David Shaw

sports@salisburypost.com

LANDIS — Sooner or later the South Rowan boys basketball team will tune in its season, but right now it’s just a whole bunch of static.

The Raiders’ barren winter continued Friday night when SPC-leading Hickory Ridge paid a visit and rolled to an 82-47 victory.

“We took a few steps, but then we took some steps back,” second-year coach Andre McCain said. “We didn’t play great defense or shoot well. We seem to take care of the ball sometimes, but not consistently. We’ve got to get better at that.”

South (0-9, 0-6) was simply exposed by Hickory Ridge (8-0, 6-0) and its run-and-gun offense. The Ragin’ Bulls placed 13 names in the scoring column, topped by Nick Ruggiero (18) and Jarren Cottingham (16) — senior guards who combined for 30 first-half points. The guests built a 10-point first-quarter lead and cracked the game open in the second.

“In the first quarter we made all these tips and deflections but didn’t grab those loose balls,” said HR coach Robert Machado. “In the second they became steals and we got easy breakouts and layups.”

South got as close as 23-16 when forward Bailey Graham beamed in a 3-pointer from the left corner just seconds into the second quarter. But it made only three baskets in the period and trailed 48-22 at halftime.

“Foul trouble hurt us, too,” McCain said. “We had to take our point guard (Dillon Kluttz) out early and that hurt our tempo. And we didn’t play defense like we’re supposed to. Whenever they wanted to run, they ran.”

Hickory Ridge nearly turned the match into a mercy-rule/running-clock embarrassment on three occasions in the second half. The first came when Kevon Meertins hit a free throw to provide a 68-30 lead with 1:21 remaining in the third quarter. South responded — and avoided falling 40 points behind — when Kluttz made a couple of last-minute foul shots and forward Tyler Peacock hit a stickback with less than a second on the clock.

In the final period Graham hit a pair of 3-balls and teammate Connor Childers connected from the right corner, keeping South on the floor. When it was over, Machado was pleased but wasn’t exactly turning cartwheels.

“We gave up a lot of offensive rebounds,” he said. “And defensively, I didn’t really like our effort. We have goals. Tonight we took zero charges.”

McCain, meanwhile, remained optimistic the Raiders will win a game this season.

“The guys are staying positive,” he said. “I believe it’s going to happen. They want to be here, they want to work and they don’t bring any negativity with them. These guys want to win as much as I do.”

HICKORY RIDGE (82) — Ruggiero 18, Cottingham 16, Garner 9, Thomas 8, Wimbish 6, Meertins 6, Leary 4, Bell 4, Cupples 3, Carlton 2, Hayles 2, Kirby 2, Habjanic 2.

SOUTH ROWAN (47) — Graham 12, Kluttz 10, Harrington 5, Childers 5, Peacock 4, Powers 4, Corriher 3, Shaver 2, Sellers 2, Hubbard.

Hickory Ridge         23    25    20    14 — 82

South Rowan          13     9      12    13 — 47

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