North pulls through in double overtime vs. Berkeley Springs

Dec. 31—RACHEL — As if the first four quarters weren't enough of a white-knuckle affair, the North Marion Huskies and Berkeley Springs Indians pushed each other well past regulation, needing double overtime to settle their affair on Friday.

After the dust settled on the marathon showdown, the Huskies came away with a 70-64 home win to improve to 2-2 on the season.

North's Harley Sickles scored 19 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while teammate Preston Williams scored 17 to go with five rebounds and five steals. For Berkeley Springs, Tymir Ross scored 28 points.

"I'm exhausted, I'm sure they are too," North Marion head coach Steven Harbert said. "We didn't play well in my opinion. I thought defensively we were pretty decent."

The game was foul-riddled and often ugly game, with the teams combining for 58 fouls throughout the entire contest, including 43 in the second half and overtimes.

North Marion also struggled from the line, going 19-43 from the foul line, including 9-21 in regulation. Berkeley Springs finished 20-32.

"I'm a little upset because we shoot a lot of free throws in practice," Harbert said. "If you were to come to our practice and watch, we probably make 75, 80% of them. Games are won and lost at the free throw line. We win in regulation if we shoot 70% from the free throw line. Hats off to them, they played hard tonight."

North Marion led 10-7 after the first quarter, the Huskies' fierce defense overcoming shooting struggles. North shot 4-15 from the field in the first quarter.

A four-point burst in the first minute of the second quarter gave Berkeley Springs an 11-10 lead, but North Marion resumed their lockdown operation the rest of the way, allowing four more points in the quarter and leading 22-15 at halftime.

North tallied 10 steals on the day, and pressured Berkeley Springs into 22 turnovers.

Things stayed tight in the third quarter, but the Huskies preserved a lead all the way, up 33-28 going into the fourth.

Midway through the fourth, Ross converted an and-one driving layup that tied the game at 37 — the first tie since the second quarter, where the two teams were knotted at 15.

Ross scored 16 points between the third and fourth quarters. The senior was hampered by fouls in the first half, and fouled out in overtime, but made his mark in the second half of regulation.

"We knew Ross was a good player, man," Harbert said. "We played him last year in the regional game and he had 11 or something like that, but they played him more in the post then.

"This year, I've seen him play and I've seen film of him. He goes right all of the time, and he does just enough, ball fakes and things like that, to get his driving angle so he's on a straight line-drive."

Cole Malnick's dish down low to Williams gave North another lead the next possession, but just as quickly, Berkeley Springs' Reagan Thompson nailed a corner 3-pointer to put his team ahead 40-39 with 4:00 to play — the Indians' first advantage since leading 11-10 early in the second.

A North turnover and Jacob Shekey run-out lay-in put the Indians ahead by three, and put the Huskies on the backfoot. A Sickles score inside brought the deficit down to one, but Ross sent another shot across the bow via yet another and-one layup. A lane violation cut down the free throw attempt, and North trailed 44-41 with just over two minutes to play.

What proceeded was a to-and-fro between the two teams at the free throw line. Cole Malnick split a pair of free throws to come within two, then Ross did the same at his end to push the lead back to three, only for Parker Kincell to split his own two free throws and bring the lead teetering back to two.

A pair of misses at the free throw line by Sickles and subsequent 2-2 showing at the stripe by Berkeley Springs' Gavin Young pushed the score to 47-43 with just 35 seconds to go.

Sickles converted on the interior quickly, and the Huskies trailed 47-45 with 0:24 showing on the clock.

Then, the Huskies needed to play defense.

North put on a full-court press after a timeout. The inbound was caught near the corner, and being defended by a wide-eyed Preston Williams, the Indians' ball-handler was called for a double-dribble.

North Marion showed some patience with their own turn on offense, swinging the ball from one side of the court to the other — and into the hands of Williams on the opposite wing, who dashed to the rim, double-clutched a layup attempt around a rotating Ross, and put through the game-tying shot.

With only a few moments left in regulation, the final attempt from Berkeley Springs was wild and the game headed to overtime tied 47-47.

Ross looked to put the pedal down at the start of OT, scoring Berkeley's first five points and putting his team ahead 52-49, but Williams made another clutch shot, this one a game-tying 3-pointer with two minutes to go in the period.

"He always plays with a bunch of energy," Harbert said of Williams. "If there's one thing you can always count on every night, number one's going to play hard. And that's really with most of our guys, and absolutely with Preston, he always plays hard.

"We'd like him to play a little more under control on the offensive end. He's very good defensively but on the offensive end we'd like him to slow down a little bit, and we'll see that in film tomorrow."

As it was in the end of regulation, the teams traded free throws down the stretch, and with 20 seconds to play, the game remained tied 55-55.

North's Parker Kincell drew a charge on a Berkeley Springs fast break to save a potential game-deciding opportunity, and the next possession, North's own chance to put the game to rest was off the mark too. Tied 55-55, and with fouls piling up on both sides, the two weary teams headed to a second overtime.

Seven players fouled out Friday, including Ross, Thompson, Shekey and Dakota Hamrick for Berkeley Springs, and Williams, Malnick and Casey Minor for North Marion.

Something had to give, and it was the late-game performance by Harley Sickles that kicked open the door for North.

Cole Malnick started the second OT with a basket, but Sickles took the wheel from there, scoring six straight points to push the Huskies towards the finish line, up 63-55 with two minutes to play. Sickles finished with eight points in the second overtime period, while Berkeley Springs' own offense couldn't muster enough scoring without Ross and their other key players forced to the bench by that time.

"If you get him in a mismatch, then typically we win, as far as him getting buckets," Harbert said of Sickles. "They would triple him — and you even saw early on in the overtime, they actually would put three and four guys, when we entered it into the post, everybody went at him. He just rose above them and scored the ball. He came up clutch late in the game and obviously in the overtimes."

Along with Sickles' and Williams' nights, Casey Minor finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, and Malnick ended with nine points, three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block. Caden Morris scored five, while Parker Kincell finished with four points, three assists and two steals. Landon Frey also scored four, and Brock Martin scored one.

North Marion next travels to Buckhannon-Upshur on Jan. 3.

"Obviously any win, whether it's pretty or ugly, any win's good," Harbert said. "I felt like winning a close game, we needed to do that. We've been in close games before and haven't been able to pull them out. Tonight, depth-wise it showed that we could go a little deeper into the bench and again, we needed to win a close one."

Reach Nick Henthorn at 304-367-2548, on Twitter @nfhenthorn_135 or by email at