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Tribe tops towering Northview

Bill Lane • Dec 29, 2007 at 12:00 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Describing his vantage point, Dobyns-Bennett’s Justin Sylvester, a 5-foot-10 junior guard, said shooting the ball against Northview of Duluth, Ga., “was like looking through a bunch of trees — I couldn’t see the basket at times.’’

Despite an occasional obstruction of view, Sylvester led a late scoring flurry Saturday as D-B defeated the Titans 59-53 in an Arby’s Classic early- bird game.

Northview (9-3) has a basketball lineup that features 6-11 Ralph Sampson III and 6-8 Robert Sampson, who are trying to follow in their father’s footsteps.

The 7-4 Ralph Sampson was an NBA phenomenon after being picked No. 1 in the 1983 draft. He averaged 30 points, 19 rebounds and seven blocks as a senior at Harrisonburg, Va., and became a three-time NCAA player of the year at the University of Virginia.

D-B (12-2) was barely outrebounded by Northview 47-44 and outscored the Titans in the late going 12-4.

Marshall Hardy converted a three-point play to put D-B in front for keeps at 50-49 with 4:06 remaining and Darren Riggs hit a layup with 2:32 showing.

Sylvester then stole the ball for a layup at the two-minute mark, drove for another basket at 1:05 and got another steal to feed Jamel Williams a layup with 18 seconds remaining. Jordan Edwards finished the scoring with a free throw 9.5 seconds from the buzzer.

“I noticed that Northview’s ball handler, No. 23 (Jordan Rainford), was right-handed,’’ Sylvester explained. “I played him to his left and when he came back to the right, I jumped on it.’’

Sylvester led the Indians with 12 points despite spending several minutes on the bench nursing a facial injury he sustained when the Minnesota- bound Ralph Sampson III clobbered him with a flying elbow.

“He’s a big boy,’’ said Sylvester, managing a smile.

Ralph Sampson III, who sat out a game against Science Hill earlier in the week because of a bronchitis attack, made his presence felt. He scored 21 points, grabbed 17 rebounds and blocked eight shots.

Still, he was less dominant than usual.

“We’re not used to going against two tall post players in the same game,’’ Northview coach Steve Bombard said. “Dobyns- Bennett had two (6-10 Bronson Flack and the 6-6 Edwards).’’

Ironically, D-B’s rebound leader was Sylvester with 12. Hardy claimed nine. For Northview, Dan Stryzinski had 13 to complement Ralph Sampson III’s total.

D-B closed the first half with a bang to lay claim to a 27-20 lead. Flack, Edwards, Williams, Sylvester and Dustin McConnell all had a hand in the surge.

“The time of the game (9 a.m.) had something to do with the way we played,’’ D-B coach Charlie Morgan said. “I asked our guys to block all of that out. This is when you have to be mentally tough.

“We let Northview get back in the game in the second half, but our players wouldn’t quit. When we play good interior defense, we’ve got a chance. We’re getting better at it.’’

Ralph Sampson III said he enjoyed the opportunity to appear in Viking Hall.

“It’s a great environment to play in,’’ he said. “You see people of all ages who don’t even know the players, but they’re interested in watching them.’’

The budding superstar explained his shot-blocking technique.

“I wait until the ball is released before I go after it,’’ said Sampson, who intends to play in the NBA someday. “That’s why I’ve been playing on the outside some. I’m trying to expand my game.’’

D-B moves on to play Los Angeles Dorsey for sixth place at 1:30 p.m. Monday.

There will be no action today.

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