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The host Fike High varsity boys basketball team weathered Southern Nash’s torrid start and pulled away to a frenzied, crowd-stirring 68-49 3-A Big East Conference victory Fike on Friday night.
In spoiling the Firebirds’ conference opener, Fike evened its Big East mark at 1-1 and climbed to 6-7 overall. Southern Nash departed 4-5 against all foes.
The Golden Demons, down 21-11 in the opening quarter, seized the lead for keeps with slightly over two minutes left in the second quarter.
Fike rode the outside shooting of sophomore guard Christen Battle in the first half and then decimated the Firebirds inside in the second half with slick entry passes from Battle, senior Mason Lee, sophomore Kyshon Atkinson and 6-foot-4 senior Moses Parker.
“That’s Fike basketball!” exclaimed pleased Fike head coach Brent Secrest. “That intensity is what we want.
“Outside shooting carried us the first half. We got on the big men at halftime — they were not wanting the ball and were having a hard time being ready to catch it. When they started wanting the ball, we got it to them and they did a good job of finishing.”
Battle drilled in 15 points in the first half en route to a game-high 21. Parker bounced back from a poor outing Tuesday with 16 points and seven rebounds. Khouri Carvey, a 6-5 junior, added nine points and nine rebounds, while Lee contributed eight points.
In Tuesday night’s loss to Franklinton, Parker and Lee combined for two points.
“I started scoring,” Battle explained his role, so they would step out on me and we could get the big men involved.”
The Firebirds claimed their 21-11 margin on senior Bladen Williams’ 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the first quarter. Southern Nash would knock down but one more 3-pointer the rest of the way.
Southern Nash began settling for long-distance shots that refused to drop. Fike’s Carvey cleaned the defensive glass.
Battle’s basket resulted in a 25-25 tie with 2:53 left in the first half. The lead became the Demons’ at 28-25 on a Battle 3-pointer at the 2:03 mark. After a field goal from Southern Nash senior A.J. Jones, Fike, with Lee connecting from 3-point land, proceeded to a 33-27 halftime margin.
Lee’s two free throws staked Fike to a 42-30 margin in the third quarter. The Firebirds chopped the deficit to 44-38 on senior Kaiser Rambert’s putback, but missed a lay-in at the buzzer.
Southern Nash head coach Robbie Kennedy cited the miss at the buzzer and seven off-target free throws during the quarter.
The Firebirds failed to spurt in the final quarter and Kyshon Atkinson’s coast-to-coast layup provided Fike its largest lead of 67-47.
Southern Nash connected on just 10-of-29 free throws and, from the field, hit just 18-of-53 attempts for 31% accuracy.
“(Fike) went zone and we started shooting 3s,” Kennedy noted. “We took a lot of them and didn’t make many. We’ve got to shoot better. You can’t win games shooting like that — it’s impossible.”
Jones’ 10 points led the Firebirds, while sophomore Chason Royal managed nine.
“We had to get more energetic on defense, rebound the ball a little better and push the pace,” Battle said of the Fike turnaround. “We are working hard in practice and trying to get a win. It feels good; it’s the best game we have played this year.”
Added Secrest: “Southern Nash always brings a great crowd, and they started getting into it. We kept our composure. I think we just came together and decided we wanted it; we were tired of not getting the job done. The seniors stepped up.”
SOUTHERN NASH (49)
Rambert 4, Allen 2, Williams 3, Jones 10, Bailey 7, Parker 2, Tabron 7, Royal 9, Herndon, Armstrong, Vick 5.
Leach 1, Battle 21, K. Atkinson 6, Lee 8, Sanders, Waddell 2, Williams, Carvey 9, T. Atkinson 5, Hampton, Batts, Parker 16.
Score by quarters:
Southern Nash 21 6 11 11 — 49
Fike 13 20 11 24 — 68