CLINCHPORT — A late addition to the Sullivan North playbook paid off in a big way Tuesday night.
Behind a frenetic 1-3-1 zone defense, the Raiders forced 25 turnovers in a decisive 64-34 boys non-conference victory over host Rye Cove.
“That’s something we drew up today,” North coach Mitch Cox said. “We wanted to mix things up a little bit. We were afraid that with the loss last night the guys might come out a little bit flat so we thought mixing things up might get them excited and it did.”
Remnants of Monday’s 51-35 loss to Elizabethton surfaced early, but quickly disappeared.
After a bit of jostling over the first two minutes, the Raiders (9-7) settled in and began to assert themselves. Using turnovers as a catalyst, North surged to a 19-7 advantage after one period.
An 8-1 run followed in the second as the Raiders continued to capitalize on Rye Cove mistakes. The War Eagles (1-11) committed 15 turnovers in the first half, leading to 14 Sullivan North points.
“That zone they were in was tough for us to operate against,” Rye Cove coach Justin Seaver said. “We played pretty hard in the first quarter and then they hit a couple of shots. After that, they started making runs on us.”
Before most fans had even settled back into their seats following intermission, the Raiders had converted a pair of layups — both off steals.
The War Eagles eventually calmed down, but by then the result was inevitable.
Swingman Dustin Doran checked in as North’s high scorer, finishing with 16 points. Eric Herring added 13 points and point guard Matt Williams had nine.
Post Blake Wyatt notched a team-high 15 points for Rye Cove.
“This kind of game tonight is a character check,” Cox said. “It’s a statement that we’re going to bounce back no matter what.
“Regardless, we’ve got to get ready for Unicoi County on Friday.”
Earlier, the Rye Cove girls rebounded from Tuesday’s shock defeat to Thomas Walker with a 57-24 win.
Like the North boys, Rye Cove (7-5) made the most of opponent turnovers, recording 19 points off 22 Lady Raider miscues.
Still, coach Jamie Carter wasn’t that impressed with the performance.
“We’re just trying to find some sort of rhythm out there on the floor,” Carter said. “We’re playing good in spurts, and playing bad in spurts. We have not put together a whole game yet.”
Christi Hood led the Lady Eagles with 14 points, seven of which came in the first quarter. Shasta Edwards and Shelli McDavid each posted nine.
For North, Chelsea Williams totaled 12.
“It’s not where you are right now, it’s where you finish,” Carter said. “We just need to make sure we’re peaking then.”