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It all came down to how the ball bounced for varsity boys basketball teams from Fike and Hunt in Friday’s rivalry renewal on the Warriors’ floor.
Junior Blaize Keen’s corner 3-pointer that spun out and bounced twice more on the rim before falling through with about six seconds left in overtime gave Hunt a 75-74 lead. After calling timeout to set up a play, the Golden Demons put the ball in the hands of Kyshon Atkinson, whose unimpeded drive to the basket resulted in his layup attempt spinning out as the buzzer sounded.
“We finally got a good bounce because it seemed like earlier the ball wasn’t bouncing our way,” said a relieved Hunt head coach Dwight Taylor, whose team escaped with its ninth consecutive win. The Warriors, who drubbed the Demons 64-44 in the Farris & Thomas Holiday Tournament championship game at Hunt nearly four weeks ago, remained alone in first place in the 3-A Big East Conference standings at 4-0. Hunt is 11-5 overall.
Taylor credited the Demons, who slid to 1-4 in league games and 6-10 overall after their third loss in a row.
“They played real well and we didn’t play well,” said Taylor, who pointed out that Hunt’s game at Franklinton on Monday was postponed, so this was their first outing since a win at Southern Nash last Friday. “It felt like we were stale. We missed that game this week and had some kids out with the flu. Practice time wasn’t perfect this week.”
Fike pushed the Warriors throughout the game, owning the lead at the end of every quarter save the fourth. Hunt led, Taylor said, but turned the ball over and Fike was able to hit the tying shot.
With Fike up 74-72 and less than 15 seconds remaining in overtime, senior forward Moses Parker, who led the Demons with 23 points, missed a free throw. Hunt sophomore Davon Jones came down with his 12th rebound and flipped the ball to senior guard Tiquez Taylor with less than 11 seconds to play. With Fike’s Atkinson closely guarding him, Taylor executed a behind-the-back dribble and got free to send a pass to Keen in the left corner. The junior scooped it up and calmly got the three-iron bounce for the go-ahead goal.
“We wanted to push it down and he was going to run to the corner,” Dwight Taylor explained.
On Fike’s ensuing possession, Taylor said he told his players not to foul. However, the Warrior defenders took that a bit too literally as Atkinson was able to get deep into the lane and take a good shot — it just didn’t go in.
“It was a great shot. I thought it was going to go in,” said Taylor, who credited his defense for forcing a couple of five-second calls earlier in the game.
Hunt has a pair of big Big East games looming next week, wrapped around a home nonconference game against Greene Central on Wednesday. The Warriors visit three-time defending league champion Northern Nash on Tuesday. A second win over the Knights for Hunt, which won 72-62 in the Big East opener Jan. 10 at Hunt, would put the Warriors on the inside track for their first conference championship since 2014-15.
Sophomore TyChaun Clay led the Warriors with 21 points while Jones had 12 points to go with his 12 rebounds and senior Shakei Hines added 11 points.
Besides Parker’s 23 points, sophomore guard Christen Battle had 21 points and Trevon Atkinson had 13 points. The Demons will visit Southern Nash on Wednesday.
Battle 21, K. Atkinson 6, Lee 3, Waddell 1, Carvey 2, T. Atkinson 13, Batts 4, Parker 23.
Clay 21, Wade 5, Keen 9, Hines 11, Hammonds 9, Horne 4, Jones 12, Joyner 4.
Score by quarters:
Fike 20 9 19 15 11 — 74
Hunt 14 13 20 16 12 — 75