NEESES – The Hunter-Kinard-Tyler boys basketball team earned its first-round bye in the South Carolina High School League state playoffs and had Friday night’s second-round game at home against the Lewisville Lions.
But the visitors looked more comfortable and executed their game plan better than the home team from the opening tip, as a late comeback by H-K-T fell short in a 58-54 win by the Lions.
The Trojans outscored the Lions 19-9 in the fourth quarter, but 56-54 was as close as the home team – with seven seniors - got to a tie in the final minute of play.
The Trojans finished the season with a 15-10 record, after winning the tiebreaker to take the Region 3-A title. The loss was their first at home in more than 2 seasons.
The Lions moved to 16-8 on the season and into the third-round of play.
“The outside shot wasn’t going for us tonight,” H-K-T head coach Stefon Milhouse said. “But we knew this team was coming off playing for a state championship last season and they would do the little things it takes to win.
“If we had just played our style of ball all game, instead of just for a quarter and a half, we would have had a much better chance to win. We had jitters first half, shots weren’t falling early, and the guys just didn’t know what to do at that point.”
Three Lions scored in double figures, including Jadakiss Talford with 13 points, Maurice Grant with 11 points and Mikai Fourney with 10 points.
All-State junior wing forward Marlow Gilmore led the Trojans with a game-high 19 points and 5 blocked shots, while Camry James added 11 points.
Three of the five starters for H-K-T fouled out late, making the uphill battle for the comeback even more difficult.
The Lions settled in with six players scoring in the first quarter, compared to just three Trojans who scored in the same time frame. The Trojans settled for all five players on the perimeter on offense, where they shot multiple 3-pointers without securing a rebound on missed shots. Martez Moore made a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left in the period to give Lewisville a 14-8 lead entering the second quarter.
The Trojans did finally hit their only 3-pointer of the night in the second quarter, when Brian Youmans connected on his only basket of the game. H-K-T outscored the Lions in the second quarter, 15-14, but still trailed 36-23 at the half. Gilmore had his best offensive quarter just before intermission, scoring 9 of his points, including 5 free throws, in the second quarter.
H-K-T came out of the locker room determined to make a comeback, as Trentez James made a free throw to start the third quarter, grabbed an offensive rebound off his own missed shot and Gilmore finished with a putback. The Trojans had cut the lead to just 10 points, 36-26, less than a minute into the second half.
Demtae Hardin proved to be a post presence for the Lions in the third quarter, scoring back-to-back buckets for a 42-28 lead for Lewisville with 4:30 left in the period. Grant made a 3-pointer to push the lead to its largest, 45-28, at 17 points with 4 minutes left in the third.
Jamareon Tyler and Trentez James collected three consecutive steals, but the lone point off the turnovers was a free throw made by I’rek Hartwell after Gilmore was fouled hard on a fastbreak attempt and was slammed into the gym stage. The Lions led 49-34 entering the fourth quarter.
The Trojans defense showed up in the fourth quarter, limiting the Lions to just two made field goals. Camry James scored 7 points in the period and both Gimore and Tyler added 4 points apiece. But, a driving layup by Gilmore cut the lead to 2 points, 56-54, with 29 seconds left to play. After that, Grant made two free throws for the Lions and the Trojans missed one 3-pointer and 3 late putback attempts to draw closer.
“If only we had played defense like we can for all four quarters, this would have been a different game,” Milhouse said.
H-K-T went 13 for 24 on free throws, while Lewisville went just 1 for 6 from the charity stripe in the first quarter, but went 17 for 30 on free throws in the game.
LEWISVILLE (58) – Demtae Hardin 9, Jadakiss Talford 13, Jayon Talford 4, Martez Moore 3, Maurice Grant 11, Mikai Fourney 10, Brian Shivers 2, Devon Busby 6
HUNTER-KINARD-TYLER (54) – Marlow Gilmore 19, Trentez James 4, De’Nearius Sapp 4, Camry James 11, Jarqwese Clemons 2, I’rek Hartwell 7, Brian Youmans 3, Jamareon Tyler 4