By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 7, 2001
ST. PETERSBURG -- How does a team playing its third game in three nights avoid heavy legs and scraping the bottom of the emotional barrel?
By scheduling its biggest rival for that third game.
Despite losses to Tampa Prep (by 11 points) and Admiral Farragut (by three) the previous two nights, Northside Christian had no problem Saturday revving itself up for a trip to Keswick Christian. It bolted to a 20-8 first-quarter lead and was not threatened in a rough-and-tumble 84-63 win.
"Keswick's our big rival, and right when I woke up this morning, I wanted to play this game," Northside's Justin Barnaky said. "It's always a gruesome battle out there (against Keswick). It's like Florida-Florida State. There's always heated battles between the two teams."
In between scrums and collisions as both sides played with a little extra voltage, Northside (11-5 overall, 3-2 in Class 2A, District 10) produced crisp basketball, scoring 20 or more points in each quarter.
Barnaky (21 points) was the catalyst in the first half, and teammate Deon Troupe shouldered the scoring load after intermission. Barnaky, a 6-foot-2 junior, had three steals in the first quarter, and in the first half, he had three three-pointers and 15 points as Northside led 42-26.
"When he shoots the ball well, we play well," Northside coach Chip McAllister said of Barnaky, who finished with five three's. "And Deon, just night in and night out, he always plays his hardest."
Troupe (game-high 28 points), a 6-2 sophomore, scored 16 in the second half. The Crusaders' Joey Dunn, who led the county with 22.4 points a game and 41 three-pointers coming in, picked up three early fouls and never found a rhythm.
Pestered throughout by Northside point guard Andy Park, Dunn finished with 14 points and one three-pointer. James Wickham led Keswick (8-5, 0-3) with 18 points, and Reed Rudge had 13 rebounds.
"We were outplayed. Northside came out and did a nice job," Keswick coach Jack Clark said. "It was physical early. The tone was set. They responded by playing hard. We responded by being a little intimidated."