The Paper photo by Lori PoteetGrant Gayler led the Chargers with 11 points Saturday.
The Paper photo by Lori Poteet

Grant Gayler led the Chargers with 11 points Saturday.

LINDEN-The matchups continue to get tougher for North Montgomery's boys basketball team. The Chargers fell in their home opener to the Harrison Raiders on Saturday night 31-51.

It was evident during the warm-up that Harrison outsized North Montgomery. Yet, the Chargers maintained a high energy level that kept them in the game. Despite the size mismatch, North had only one fewer rebound in the first half than their opponent.

"They were tall, physical, and had a lot of depth," Charger coach Joel Grindle said of Harrison after the game. "This was a grinding game-could have been a good football matchup."

North Montgomery's defense was aided by Harrison's poor shooting. The Raiders shot only 31% from the field in the first half. By halftime, the score was only 24-19 in favor of Harrison.

"We felt the game was closer than it ended up" Grindle said afterward. "We played a very solid first half and could have very easily been ahead."

After the break, however, Harrison kicked into another gear. Senior point guard Bobby Rogers began penetrating for the Raiders, dicing the Chargers' help-side defense. Harrison also made extra passes to find the open man and get much better looks. The benefactor of these passes for most of the night was Jacob Bower. The senior led Harrison with 12 points, killing North Montgomery with his turnaround jumper.

North's offense was stifled after halftime. Harrison's size shut down most of the Chargers' opportunities. Even North's leading scorer, sophomore Grant Gayler, found it difficult to get open looks; Gayer shot just 3-12 from the field. Harrison outscored the Chargers 16-6 in the third quarter.

Coach Grindle was more hesitant to turn to his bench than he was on Wednesday in a loss at Speedway. The lack of depth on the part of North was accentuated by Harrison's constant rotation. The Raider bench outscored North's 19-1.

Harrison also began collecting rebounds and causing the Chargers to make mistakes. Although senior point guard Nathan Neal handled the pressure well for North, Harrison forced 20 turnovers.

"A couple of our players get marked as "the man' that have never been there before," Coach Grindle commented on his lack of experience. "There's no doubt that our kids are leaving it all out on the floor."

After the loss, the Chargers drop to 0-2 on the season. On the bright side, last year's leading scorer Nathan Rogers has a good chance of being on the floor for North Montgomery in its next game. The senior suffered a fractured collarbone during football season. The Chargers face county rival Southmont at Southmont on Friday.