CLINCHPORT — When he enrolled at Sullivan North, Mark Salyers wanted to be a basketball star. Apparently, he was the only one who believed that would ever happen.
“As a freshman, you’d never had thought he’d become a competitive player,’’ Raiders coach Mitch Cox said. “Little did anybody know he was a gym rat. He’s spent many hours working on his own. Mark is an inspiration to all of our guys.’’
Salyers blazed in 29 points Wednesday night, hitting 10 of 16 floor shots, as North defeated Rye Cove 74-52 in an interstate matchup.
The 5-foot-10 guard rescued the Raiders (3-3), who were involved in a close game with the Eagles (0-3). While most of his teammates were having difficulty finding the range, he kept North in the game in the first half.
Rye Cove was ahead 30-28 at halftime but collapsed once Chase Arnold and William White got warmed up and helped Salyers carry the scoring load.
Arnold, a 6-3 freshman post, finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds. It marked his sixth consecutive double-double performance.
White, a 5-11 sophomore guard, was scoreless at halftime but eventually got on track. He had 14 points.
“We came out sluggishly after a hard-fought game Tuesday night against Johnson County,’’ Cox said. “Some of the younger kids stepped up and sparked the older ones.
“We’ve got tons of prospects coming. North has a big future if these players will work at it.’’
Devon Wells scored 17 for Rye Cove, which played under unusual circumstances. Justin Seaver resigned as head coach earlier in the day and principal Reagan Mullins handed the reins to assistant Michael Paul Berry.
“I learned about 3 p.m. that I’d be coaching the team,’’ said Berry, a former Rye Cove player.
Mullins said Seaver “felt it was in his own best interest and the best interest of the program if he stepped down.’’
Berry liked the way Rye Cove played in the early going. “We had only five turnovers at halftime,’’ he said. “We made 11 in the second half.
“We were a lot more competitive tonight than we were against North the last couple of years,” Berry added. “That’s a little victory for us, I guess. I’m going to try to get these kids playing as hard as they can. They’ve got to hustle.’’