Tigers run away with CT title

Stephanie King

After three days of impressive play, the 29th Annual Boys’ Courier-Tribune Christmas Invitational came down to just two teams. The Randleman Tigers faced off against the Southwestern Randolph Cougars on Monday in the championship game. This was Randleman’s first time in the title game since 2016 when they defeated Trinity for the crown. Southwestern Randolph last made the championship game in 2015 when they fell to Asheboro. The Tigers reached Monday’s championship game after defeating Eastern Randolph and Providence Grove, while the Cougars had to go through Jordan-Matthews and Wheatmore.

Southwestern Randolph took an early 1-0 lead off a free-throw from Chris Hardin to start the game, but Randleman quickly answered with back to back buckets from Nate Cassidy. Back to back buckets from Luke Dalke and Parker LaPlant put the Cougars back on top for a moment before a three from Cassidy gave the Tigers a 7-5 lead. The Cougars tied the game twice on buckets from LaPlant, but a strong drive and score from Cassidy gave the Tigers an 11-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Randleman wasted no time extending their lead at the start of the second quarter. The Tigers opened the quarter with a 6-0 run including a three from Tyler Nahill to take a 17-9 lead over the Cougars. Southwestern Randolph ended the run with a free-throw from Dalke before Dominick Poole went on a personal 6-0 run for the Tigers giving them a thirteen-point lead. The Cougars cut the lead to eleven with a bucket from LaPlant, but Robby Rich answered with a three on the other end for the Tigers. Connor Lineberry scored on a putback to extend the Tigers’ lead to sixteen late in the quarter.  The Cougars would end up outscoring the Tigers 8-3 to close out the quarter. At the half, Randleman held a 31-18 advantage over the Cougars.

The third quarter opened with a three-point contest as the teams traded four straight threes. Elijah Reza knocked in a pair of threes for the Cougars, while Poole and Kaleb Michell each hit one for Randleman. The three from Mitchell sparked an 8-0 run that also included a three from Connor Lineberry. Hardin ended the run with a three-point play for the Cougars. A floater from Tyler Nahill extended the Tigers’ lead to seventeen, but the Cougars answered with a bucket from Ethan Smith and a pair of free throws from Mason Cross to cut the lead to thirteen. Randleman closed out the quarter with a 9-0 run that included back to back threes from Nate Green and Mitchell as well as a three-point play from Cassidy. After three complete quarters, Randleman led 53-31 over Southwestern Randolph.

Smith opened the fourth quarter with a three for the Cougars before Poole picked up three points the old-fashioned way on the other end for the Tigers. LaPlant trimmed the lead to twenty on a strong to the hoop early in the quarter. The Tigers got back to back buckets from Cassidy and Na’hiem Lilly for a 60-36 lead midway through the quarter. After a free-throw from the Cougars, Poole and Lineberry combined to go three for four to extend the Tigers’ lead to twenty-six. A three from Smith trimmed the lead to twenty-three for the Cougars, while a free-throw from Nahill pushed the lead to twenty-four for the Tigers. Southwestern Randolph kept fighting as Hardin knocked down a bucket in the paint with about a minute and a half left in the game. Randleman would hold the ball for the remainder of the game picking up a 64-42 win over Southwestern Randolph.

Leading the way for the Tigers was Dominick Poole with 18 points. Nate Cassidy added 14 for the Tigers, while Kaleb Mitchell chipped in nine. For the Cougars, Parker LaPlant led the way with 12 points, while Ethan Smith finished with nine. Chris Hardin and Elijah Reza each had six for the Cougars.

Sportsmanship Award Winner: Camden Fuquay, J-M

All-Tournament Team

Dominick Poole, RHS (MVP)
Kaleb Mitchell, RHS
Na’hiem Lilly, RHS
Nate Cassidy, RHS
Parker LaPlant, SWR
Luke Dalke, SWR
Ethan Smith, SWR
Jake Tuggle, WHS
Austin Biggs, WHS
Jonathan Foust, PG
Michael Fee, PG
Thomas McIntosh, AHS
Ben Owens, THS
Osiris Ross, ER
Lanice Hedgepeth, J-M

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