01/09/05 — Princeton-N. Johnston

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Princeton-N. Johnston

Published in Sports on January 9, 2005 2:00 AM

PRINCETON -- A standing-room-only crowd at Princeton was treated Friday night to another chapter in the heated cross-county basketball rivalry between the Bulldogs and North Johnston.

The teams split in two extremely physical Class 1-A Carolina games.

North Johnston cruised to a 60-22 verdict in the women's game.

Staving off a late Panther rally, Princeton claimed a 67-58 win in the men's game. It was just as satisfying personally for coach Jeff Davis, as it was professionally.

"I graduated from North Johnston," he said. "My wife teaches there. Plus, they are our biggest rivals."

At the start, Princeton caught its guests flat-footed. Spreading the scoring around through Karter Yutzy, Brandon Pate and Josh Thompson, the Bulldogs raced to a 15-3 lead. North Johnston did not score until the 2:44 mark on a 3-point play by center Damien Allen.

After coach Derrick Johnson called a timeout, they regrouped.

The Panthers' Brandon Samuels was tagged with the task of holding scoring sensation Yutzy. Meanwhile, Yutzy and Pate had to neutralize the Panthers' 6-foot-5 tandem of Willie Smith and Allen under the boards.

North Johnston started down the comeback trail for the first time as the first half was ending. Baskets by Willie Pearce, Brad Holloman and Smith narrowed the margin to four, 29-25 at the one minute mark.

Princeton was equal to the challenge.

Yutzy, high scorer on the night with 26 points, and Thompson, who had a career high of 21, connected before the buzzer. That gave Princeton a 33-25 lead.

Yutzy didn't cool off, leading off with a 3-pointer to kick off the third quarter.

Down 40-25 after a technical was assessed to Johnson, the Bulldogs embarked on their second comeback. Guard Jake Lomonaco and Williams paced the surge, cutting the lead to one -- 43-42 -- at 2:08.

Disaster once again befell North Johnston. At the 1:30 mark, they were assessed another technical. Yutzy converted both shots. Diandre Dublin completed the four-point swing by hitting his only basket of the night.

Making matters worse, with 1:11 remaining in the game, Allen hyperventilated and collapsed. He was taken by paramedics to the hospital as a cautionary move.

"With four seniors playing, this has to be our year," said Davis. "Our goal is to make the playoffs. We haven't been there in about eight years. We're right on course to do that."

Davis pointed directly to his strength and conditioning program as the keys to the win.

"Because of the weight room, we were able to hold them off down the stretch," Davis said. "We're also getting some scoring help from Thompson and Pate now, so teams can't key strictly on Yutzy"

Princeton (9-4, 2-2) travels to Bear Grass on Tuesday for a non-conference game.

North Johnston, which got knocked from the ranks of the undefeated in conference play, goes to Rosewood Tuesday night with a 2-1 league record.

In the women's game, Princeton came out and shocked the undefeated Lady Panthers. C.C. Sanders scored the opening basket of the game at 6:18. Nicole Hargis followed with a free throw and North Johnston found itself down 3-0.

Hargis followed with two more foul shots, giving the Lady Bulldogs their last lead of the night 5-4, at 2:33.

"Princeton clearly was the aggressor in the first half," said North Johnston coach David Bagwell. "They outrebounded us 16-9."

The North Johnston pressure defense then took over.

"We came out and hustled, staying with them for most of the first half," said coach Ricky Boyette. "Then, they just wore us out. We're coming along."

C.C. Sanders was Princeton's high scorer with nine.