Above, Demory Williams goes up for two of his team-high 14 points as he draws contact from a defender. Below, Dustin Metts, Lance Friday, Kenny Bethea and Ben Poole joined D.J. Shives, Tae Friday and Aaron Tyson on the Holiday Clash All-Tournament team. Tyson was named MVP. Joseph Brymer / LTN Photos
D.J. Shives refused to let the North Gaston Wildcats lose on Wednesday night in the title game of the Holiday Clash. Shives hit three three-pointers in the final quarter to lead the Wildcats to a 51-46 championship victory.
No. 30 for the Wildcats had a hot hand. After scoring only two points in the first three quarters, he exploded for nine in the all-important fourth quarter. All three of his perimeter shots came on nearly the same spot on the left wing.
Wildcatsâ€™ coach Hal White believed Shives getting hot was a matter of confidence.
â€œHe had missed a couple of shots before that and he hit one and he got it in his mind he could do the job. That was big and thatâ€™s why weâ€™re here and got a banner tonight,â€ he said.
â€œHeâ€™s a good shooter. He had a hand in his face and everything. Thereâ€™s nothing you can do but challenge it,â€ Demory Williams, who had 14 points, said of Shives.
Shives first three came with five minutes left in the game and put the Wildcats up 41-40. After the Wolves regained the lead on a Zack Gibson fadeaway jumper, Shived again nailed a three to put his team up 44-42. Again the Wolves answered, as point guard Williams made a lay up to tie the game at 44.
With 2:25 seconds remaining, Lincolnton missed two free throws which would have put them up by four, as the score was 46-44. Shives quickly capitalized connecting on this third, and most clutch, three of the night putting North Gaston up 47-46 with 1:57.
The game was so close it seemed that whoever got the breaks would win. With 30 seconds left, North Gaston got perhaps the two biggest. Dustin Metts blocked a shot that landed in Jeff Johnsonâ€™s hands, who laid it up putting the Wildcats up 49-46.
The Wildcats also benefited from a controversial call in the later stages of the fourth quarter. As Aaron Tyson, who was held to only six points on the night, went for a loose ball along with a Lincolnton player. The ball appeared to have gone off Tysonâ€™s hands.
The referees perceived it differently awarding North Gaston with the ball. The play could have served as a microcosm of the game. The Wolves did everything they needed to win the game: they broke the Wildcatsâ€™ full-court press with ease, had good shot selection and held Tyson (who scored 21 points on Tuesday night) to six points, but like that loose ball the championship was just out of reach.
What did the coaches think of the out of bounds call?
â€œI thought it was ours, but I was sixty feet away,â€ White said half-quipping.
â€œIf we execute a couple of more plays and I coach a little bit better, then all that other stuff doesnâ€™t play into the game,â€ Cowie said.
The Wolvesâ€™ final hopes were dashed when Tae Friday stole the ball and went the length of the court to put the nail in the proverbial coffin with Lincolnton trailing by a possession.
White realized just how fortunate his Wildcats were.
â€œWe had an easy game with them last week. Our pressure didnâ€™t bother them. Coach Cowie did a great job on that. The style of the game with the referees letting it be physical, their kids really stepped up. They wanted the ball more. We just made some plays at the end to allow us to win.â€
Cowie, despite the loss, was pleased with his team.
â€œWe certainly gave a good effort tonight. Our execution was where it needed to be. I was very proud of both of those thingsâ€”our effort and our execution,â€ he said.
Two bright spots for Lincolnton was the play of Williams and Matt Wright. Wright and Kyle Snyder combined to make Tyson a non-factor in the game.
â€œMatt brings a lot of enthusiasm, plays hard. He does everything I ask him to do. If heâ€™s not in the game, heâ€™s the one over here cheering. Heâ€™s probably the one putting our uniforms in the bag right now and heâ€™ll give you everything he has and thatâ€™s what he did tonight,â€ Cowie said.
â€œI just wanted to go out hustle, make big plays and do whatever I can do to help the team win. We got beat by them twice so I was wanting more like revenge. I was wanting to beat them. We played the whole game with them, but at the end just a couple of plays. If we could do it again; Iâ€™d say we could beat them,â€ Williams said.
Gibson chipped in with nine points, while Lance Friday had eight for Lincolnton. Jammel Jefferies made a jumper with 3:12 left to give Lincolnton the lead for the final time of the night.
Luke White had nine points, while Shives led the Wildcats with 11.
Lincolnton 14 7 15 10 -46
North Gaston 12 13 9 17 -51
WOLVES: Zack Gibson 9, Jammel Jefferies 3, Lance Friday 8, Dusty Friday 4, Kyle Snyder 2, P.J. Hamright 1, Demory Williams 14, Dustin Metts 5.
WILDCATS: Princeton Brooks 4, Clay Carrigan 3, Tae Friday 4, D.J. Young 5, D.J. Shives 11, Luke White 9, Aaron Tyson 6, Jeff Johnson 5, Jared Ewers 4.
by John Mark Brooks