Something had to give when the Bessemer City Yellow Jackets came to North Lincoln Tuesday night.
The Yellow Jackets entered the game at 0-8, while North Lincoln found themselves at 1-8 in the midst of an eight-game losing streak. Fortunately for the Knights, they were able to pull out a heavily-contested 84-79 win.
Down 77-75 after a Ty Carter steal and lay up conversion, David Ward was fouled sending him to the line for two shots with 1:16 left.
The freshman calmly stepped to the line and nailed them both. Lesharion Johnson was fouled with 1:05 remaining. After missing the first one, he made the second giving North a 78-77 advantage.
The Yellow Jackets turned the ball over at mid-court and a pass to Kenny Bethea on the other end led to an easy lay up putting the Knights ahead to stay with 56.5 remaining.
Ward, who had a career-high 16 points (in his prep career) on the night, sealed the game making two more free throws with 41.6 to play.
In a game that found both teams in the bonus for the final seven minutes, Ward, the 6â€™4â€ center was Mr. Clutch knocking down six free throws in the final quarter.
â€œI was feeling it today. It just felt normal and everything was feeling right,â€ he said.
Knightsâ€™ head coach David Johnson was proud of his freshman.
â€œDavid played very well. He picked up his play and with him only being a freshman, he has a lot to learn, but heâ€™s learning very quickly and doing what we need him to do.â€
The game was the Southern Foothills 1A opener so the Knights, who were marred by an eight-game losing streak, are 1-0; a fact not lost by them.
â€œIt was big. Now we got a conference win and going into conference, we got confidence and that way we can win the rest of the games and have a good season,â€ Ward said.
â€œWith us losing for awhile, we need something to keep the kidsâ€™ confidence up. To start it 1-0, itâ€™s a wonderful way to start,â€ Johnson said.
The win also allows the Knights to eclipse last seasonâ€™s win output (one victory) with two.
Ward paced North with 16. Alex Loftin and Bethea both contributed with 12 apiece. Trishtan Johnson had 10.
Leading Bessemer City was Ty Carter who scored a game-high 29 points, including four-three pointers. Deon Carter had 17 in the post.
T. Carter had five consecutive points nailing a three from the left wing with 1:43 left before his aforementioned steal and conversion.
Perhaps the most exciting play of the night came from Loftin. For the second time this season, Loftin pulled up just inside half court and made a buzzer beater to end the third quarter to give his team momentum entering the fourth.
The Knights went on a 14-0 run at the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second. The highlight of the run was a Bethea assist where he went behind his back to Loftin who converted the lay in.
North Lincoln is now 2-8 on the season and 1-0 in the SF 1A. Bessemer City falls to 0-9 and 0-1.
â€œWe just never gave up. For us to go so long with not winning for them to still hustle once we lost the lead a couple of timesâ€”I was proud they never quit,â€ Johnson said.
Bessemer City 18 23 17 21 -79
North Lincoln 19 22 20 23 -84
YELLOW JACKETS: C. Roberts 1, A. Byrd 3, H. Good, Aaron Jordan 10, Anthony Day 12, Ty Carter 29, Deon Carter 17.
KNIGHTS: Alex Loftin 12, Kenny Bethea 12, David Ward 16, Lesharion Johnson 7, Peyton Brady 7, Kyle Baker 3, Miquan Smith 9, Trishtan Johnson 10, Trey Whiteside 4, Justin Thompson 2.
The Lady Knights blew out the Lady Yellow Jackets 63-36.
Lindsey Smith paced the Knights with 19 points, who led 33-9 at the half.
Head coach Mark Lackey believed the biggest difference was a defensive adjustment prior to the game.
â€œWe evolved it into a 2-3 earlier in the week. It gave us a little bit more pressure on the ball and in the corners and helped us to cut down on the outside shooting,â€ he said.
Lackey was also very pleased with Smithâ€™s play.
â€œShe had a great game. We found her inside a lot for some open baskets. Sheâ€™s a good offensive rebounder for us. When we get the basketball into her hands, there are a lot of special things that can happen.â€
Eight different players scored the Knights. Lackey believes getting everyone into the game will only help his team in the duration of the season.
â€œYou can simulate things in practice, but nothing can simulate game experience. Itâ€™s invaluable,â€ he said.
Alyssa Lowe contributed 12 in the win, while Kayla Alexander chipped in with 11. Brittany Mabe scored 7 and made several hustle plays and assists with the game already decided.
Sara McCall was cited by Lackey for her â€˜solid defensive play.â€™
The Knights improve to 5-5 on the season, with a 1-0 SF 1A mark.
Bessemer City 4 5 12 15 -36
North Lincoln 17 16 11 17 -59
YELLOW JACKETS: C. Hunter 2, H. Sellers 3, T. Adams 2, Blair Ellis 2, Caroline Stover 2, A. Apironeck 8, B. Morris 3, Amy McCaskill 14.
KNIGHTS: Alyssa Lowe 12, Brittany Reel 2, Kathryn Thorne 4, Brittany Mabe 7, Caroline Farris 4, Kayla Alexander 11, Lindsey Smith 19, Sara McCall 2.
by John Mark Brooks