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Raiders adjust defense before surging past AV

BONNE TERRE – The current North County boys basketball team does not figure to rain perimeter shots with the glaring proficiency of its most recent graduating class.

But when the Raiders looked to close a superb third quarter on Tuesday night, reserves Jaelen Reed and Brandt Vickers delivered two of their biggest field goals from 3-point range.

North County rallied steadily from a nine-point deficit at halftime, and received an additional boost from senior forward John Starkey in the paint to surge past Arcadia Valley 61-51.

The Raiders (2-2) committed just three turnovers while outscoring their opponents 43-24 in the second half, and sank 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch.

Starkey netted 12 of his game-high 18 points after intermission to revive North County from a sluggish start. But equal improvement was also made on the defensive end.

Arcadia Valley (1-4) thrived off dribble penetration and kickout passes to sink five 3-pointers in the first quarter as the Raiders struggled to get organized.

Stephen Pursley notched four early field goals, and Luke Savage nailed two triples before sophomore Carter Brogan buried a 26-footer at the buzzer for a 23-11 advantage.

Despite the impressive 15-3 run on the road, the Tigers eventually found themselves on the losing end of another close battle. Their three previous setbacks were decided by a combined 10 points.

Arcadia Valley remained in front 33-27 when Logan Pannebecker dished across the lane to Taylon Jones for a transition layup, but North County remained focused on feeding its forwards.

Starkey began the third quarter with consecutive field goals, and Clayton Crow capped an 11-4 spurt by converting a second straight lob pass into the post.

The Raiders secured their initial lead of the game when Reed landed his lone basket from 21 feet, and Vickers made it 41-37 through his outside strike with the clock dwindling down.

Karter Kekec compiled 15 points with six assists in the victory, and provided two important steals near the midway juncture of the fourth quarter.

North County blew the layup after Kekec emerged with possession from a seated position, but he swiped another pass on the run near midcourt and scored for a 50-43 edge.

Cody Hubbard answered two free throws by Brogan with a 3-pointer, and an AV putback from Daniel Horn was equaled promptly at 55-47 as Kekec found Starkey open near the rim.

The Raiders reduced attacking lanes and surrendered one 3-pointer after halftime to Pursley – who finished the night with 14 points – among eight baskets overall.

Brogan tossed in eight of his 17 points over the final eight minutes – including a final uncontested follow – and grabbed seven rebounds for the Tigers.

Arcadia Valley generated just four points in the second quarter, but still carried a 27-18 advantage into the locker room as the Raiders were likewise cold.

Crow supplied nine points and Hubbard ended with eight after collecting three first-half fouls. Kolten Poorman added seven rebounds and four assists for North County.

North County sophomore guard Karter Kekec sizes up a 3-point shot during first quarter action against Arcadia Valley on Tuesday night.

North County sophomore guard Karter Kekec sizes up a 3-point shot during first quarter action against Arcadia Valley on Tuesday night.

Arcadia Valley senior Jackson Lamb (52) secures a defensive rebound in front of North County sophomore Clayton Crow (21) during second quarter action on Tuesday night.

Arcadia Valley senior Jackson Lamb (52) secures a defensive rebound in front of North County sophomore Clayton Crow (21) during second quarter action on Tuesday night.

North County senior John Starkey (right) and Arcadia Valley junior Stephen Pursley dive after a loose basketball during the second quarter on Tuesday night.

North County senior John Starkey (right) and Arcadia Valley junior Stephen Pursley dive after a loose basketball during the second quarter on Tuesday night.

Arcadia Valley sophomore Carter Brogan dribbles past North County senior Cody Hubbard during third quarter action on Tuesday night.

Arcadia Valley sophomore Carter Brogan dribbles past North County senior Cody Hubbard during third quarter action on Tuesday night.

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