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PLAYOFF QUEST
GUARD-ED CONDITION. Point guards (l to r) Isaac Dupree and Desmon Jackson duel each other during last Tuesday’s boys basketball showdown. (Graphic photos by Geoff Neville)
RED OAK -- Coach Rick Ruffin hasn’t been greedy when assessing goals this season for his young Northern Nash High School boys basketball squad.

While Ruffin would love to see his team win every game, he has set a simple target -- to qualify for the Class 3-A State Playoffs.

Four Big East Conference clubs will make the postseason, and Northern Nash took a huge step toward gaining one of those berths with two key victories last week.

On Tuesday, Northern tangled with a Southern Nash squad that is right behind the Knights in the league standings.

NN, however, was able to secure a 44-42 conquest as Donte’ McNeil scored on a stickback as time expired to put a serious dent into Souther’s postseason aspirations.

Sophomore Isiah Alston delivered 19 points for the Knights, while point guard Isaac Dupress came through with 11 tallies along with running Northern Nash’s offense.

The Knights then set their sights on a tie for third place -- and that came to fruition last Friday during a 65-50 decision against backyard rival Nash Central.

Alston was on fire again, pouring in a career-high 32 points to spark the Knights.

Darryl Prunty also reached double figures in scoring for NN with 12 markers.

With the triumph, Northern Nash improved to 8-10 overall and 4-4 in the league -- which is good enough for a third-place tie with Central heading into the final week of the 2012-13 campaign.

“It looks like we are going to get third of four place,’’ Ruffin said. “We will just have to see how we finish.

“We have a lot of inexperience, with only three guys who have played on the varsity coming into the season. Because of that, it would be a great accomplishment if we were to make the playoffs.’’

Northern Nash’s final two games of the season will be on the road.

The Knights traveled to Wilson Fike on Tuesday and will  head to Rocky Mount on Friday for the campaign finale for both clubs.

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