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Not this time!
The Fike High varsity boys basketball team found itself in peril of a second 2018-19 last-second loss to archrival Hunt before a frenzied near-capacity crowd in the Hunt High gym Friday night.
Zion May, a 6-foot-4 senior, scored inside with 28-plus seconds remaining and, suddenly, the Warriors had chopped a 59-51 deficit to 59-56.
Hope flickered of repeating the dramatic finish when the teams collided in Farris & Farris Holiday Tournament in late December.
But, not this time!
Fike’s Jeffery Dickerson swished a free throw with 23.8 seconds remaining. The Warriors committed a turnover in the form of a steal that Golden Demons senior Elijahwon Cooper converted into a layup and a 62-56 margin with 13 seconds remaining.
Another Hunt turnover and Fike finished its first conquest of the Warriors in three tries this season.
The outcome also created a logjam for second place in the 3-A Big East Conference, Fike, in completing its regular season, moved into a tie with Southern Nash at 6-4 and enters the conference tournament with a 15-8 overall record.
Hunt, 13-7 overall, stumbled to 5-4 in the conference and has a rescheduled game at home next Friday against regular-season champion Northern Nash.
The Demons of head coach Brent Secrest worked for over three quarters to finally overtake Hunt. Offensive rebounding propelled Fike and turnovers crippled a Hunt squad that had just eight players available with freshman dandy Davon Jones and junior Shaquille Wade injured.
Cooper fired in 19 points to pace Fike, while 6-4 junior Moses Parker, a no-show Tuesday night when Fike lost to Northern Nash, came off the bench late in the first quarter and responded with 18 points. Senior Jaylen Ward netted 11 points.
The never-quit May drilled in 15 points for the Warriors, while senior Malcolm Coley bucketed 12 and junior ShaKei Hines notched 10.
Trailing 5-2 at the outset, May-led Hunt spurted to a 13-5 margin that the Demons cut to 13-12. By quarter’s end, Hunt owned a 19-14 advantage when freshman Tychaun Clay scored with four seconds showing.
The Warriors appeared poised for a runaway in the second quarter. Hunt netted the first eight points and 14 of the first 15 for its biggest lead of 33-15.
Behind Cooper and Parker, Fike closed the deficit to 35-29, but Hunt emerged with a 37-29 halftime on another Clay field goal just before the buzzer.
The Warriors stretched the upper hand to 41-31 before becoming beseiged by turnovers. The Demons thrice whittled the deficit to two points — the third time at 43-41 — but Coley’s 3-pointer enabled head coach Dwight Taylor’s Warriors to take a 46-41 edge into the final quarter.
Cooper’s putback finally sent Fike out front 51-50 with 4:18 remaining. With the score knotted 51-51, the Demons seized the lead for keeps on Dickerson’s 3-pointer. Cooper responded with a putback and senior Kavaris Evans worked free inside; and Dickerson canned 1-of-2 free throws.
But the Warriors refused to abandon hopes of a fourth last-second win this season.
Not this time.
Ward 11, Evans 5, Cooper 19, Dickerson 7, Wilder 2, Lee, Thomas 2, Parker 18.
Hammonds, Coley 12, Hines 10, Carmon, Clay 9, May 15, Bates 8.
Score by quarters:
Fike 14 15 12 23 — 64
Hunt 19 18 9 10 — 56