Head coach Charles Brown said he had the best practice he has had during his time at Nation Ford High School on Thursday afternoon.
One day later, Brown said that practice paid dividends during Friday night’s hard-fought 73-57 win over region rival Spring Valley in front of a jubilant Falcons crowd.
Four Falcons scored in double-digits to help Nation Ford improve to 9-10 overall and 2-2 in Region 3-5A.
“This was the continuation of yesterday,” Brown said. “No fussing, no arguments, it was ‘Yes, sir,’ ‘No, sir. The energy was good, my energy was good, the timing was perfect.”
Jackson Burnham led the Falcons with 17 points in the win, while Caden Giles (15 points), Ben Chuttey (13 points), and Anthony Pryer (11 points) all featured in their own unique ways to ice the win.
Spring Valley earned a thin one-point lead after the first quarter. The Vikings went 4-for-5 from the foul stripe in the opening eight minutes to take the early lead.
The Vikings pushed their advantage to eight with a 9-2 run to open the second quarter. But the Falcons fought back with a strong final 5:30 of the half, outscoring their opponents 20-5 down the stretch to take a 35-27 halftime lead. That run was powered by Burnham, Drew Robertson, and Pryer all hitting multiple difficult shots in the paint.
Nation Ford nailed three straight baskets on consecutive possessions following a timeout with 4:30 to go that cut the lead to one. Giles then knocked home a short layup before Pryer finished off a gutsy drive to the basket with an and-one bucket that put the Falcons crowd on their feet with 18 seconds to play in the first half.
Brown said his team switched to a zone defense in the second quarter, which was a big help.
“It was a good little game changer,” he said.
Following the halftime break, Nation Ford pushed its lead to 12, thanks to two early dunks by Caden Giles. Chuttey and Giles both knocked home easy layups to start the second half in the opening three minutes. Robertson then hit Giles for a long-range alley-oop, which Giles was more than happy to finish off. Pryer than found Giles on an inbound play just a minute later for his second dunk of the night to push the lead to 43-31. Nation Ford held Spring Valley to just one bucket in the opening 4:30 of the third quarter.
But Spring Valley’s Nelson hit three of his team’s four layups in the final four minutes of the quarter to cut the lead back to six with 2:44 left. The Falcons led the Vikings 48-42 with one quarter left to play.
Sophomore center Mark Caslaru hopped off the bench to score two important layups to keep the Vikings at bay in the fourth.
Pryer also made a clutch play with 2:15 left in the game to make a steal and convert the layup to hand Nation Ford a 68-55 lead. Spring Valley missed four shot attempts in the final 90 seconds, including three from beyond the arc.
Brown said Pryer is a guy who “lets his game do the talking,” he said.
“He’s a tough young man,” he said. “He brings intensity every day. He plays his role, and he’s instant energy.”
Spring Valley too much for Lady Falcons
Eighth-grade small forward Ariah Heard scored 23 points and freshman guard Aubrey Morrow chipped in six points as the Lady Falcons fell to the visiting Vikings 77-43.
Junior power forward Mariana Moody led all scorers with 30 points, while junior Kelsey Chisholm had nine points to help Spring Valley earn its third region win on the season. All 12 players listed on the Spring Valley roster scored during the rout.
With the win, Spring Valley improves to 11-8 on the season. Nation Ford falls to 10-9 and 0-4 in region play dropping their first four games of the region schedule.
Spring Valley took a 15-10 lead after the first quarter. The visitors pushed their lead to 19 by halftime, thanks to an 18-3 run in the final five minutes of the first half. The Vikings held Nation Ford to just one bucket in that time, a 3-pointer by Heard, and earned seven close-range buckets of their own, thanks due to their hard work in the paint, often dominating the rim.
Spring Valley pushed the lead to 60-29 by the end of the third quarter, thanks to four more buckets by Moody.
Moody earned her 30th and final point of the night with a free throw with 3:20 left to play to push Spring Valley to a 70-37 lead. Heard notched three 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, but the effort was not enough for the Lady Falcons. Heard hit six treys throughout the contest.
The Falcons next travel to play crosstown rival Fort Mill Tuesday, Jan. 23 before playing at Clover on Friday, Jan. 26.