PUMPKIN CENTER — The North Lincoln Knights boys varsity basketball team went on an 8-1 run in the final three minutes of Tuesday’s season opener against the Bunker Hill Bears to pull ahead for a 59-54 win in nonconference play.
Junior center Chase Stehling touched off the last-minute rally with back-to-back layups to break a 53-53 tie and put the Knights ahead 55-53. Senior Justin Henson put North Lincoln further in front with a field goal, and free throws by junior guard Grant Studdard and senior guard Christian Ramos with less than 30 seconds remaining put the game out of reach of the Bears.
The Knights were led on offense by senior guard Terrel McClain (13 points, 6-6 free throws) and Stehling (13 points, 1-2 free throws). Senior guard Hunter Caldwell contributed 11 points and was 2-3 from the free throw line and Ramos added seven points and was 5-9 on free throws.
The Bears pulled ahead from a 5-2 deficit to open the game with five unanswered points in the final minutes of the first quarter to exit the frame with a 14-14 tie. The Bears opened the second quarter with a 5-0 run but the Knights held close, aided by Bunker Hill’s J’len Wilson’s basket on his own net on a rebound from a North Lincoln free throw, to go into the halftime break down 34-33.
The teams closed the third quarter at a 47-47 tie. The Knights went on a 12-2 run midway through the period, but the Bears scored seven unanswered points to knot the game ahead of the final eight minutes.
Caldwell put the Knights ahead 49-47 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter with a short jumper, but the Bears scored four unanswered points to take a 51-49 lead. Caldwell knotted the game at 51-51 with a layup from under the basket. The Bears took a 53-51 lead with 3:36 remaining, but that score was followed by North Lincoln’s final run to secure the win.
The Knights host the South Iredell Vikings today in nonconference action.