HOLLY SPRINGS — The Holly Springs boys’ basketball team changed its expectations this year. With a number of returning starters, the Golden Hawks have shifted from believing they can compete with anyone to beating anyone.
On Tuesday, Holly Springs opened the season in style with a 64-51 victory over visiting Wakefield, as the Golden Hawks turned a one-point lead entering the fourth into a decisive win.
Holly Springs guard Craig McDaniel and forward D.J. Flippin led the team with 18 and 17 points respectively, while the Hawks defense limited the Wolverines to just eight points in the fourth quarter.
“I told the guys we are past the stage where we just come out here and are happy to compete,” said Holly Springs’ seventh-year head coach Thurman Jordan. “We feel that if we execute our offense and play hard on defense we can win any game we play.”
The game actually started ominously for the Hawks, as Wakefield (0-1) jumped out to a 15-6 lead. Holly Springs bounced back with a 9-0 run to end the period, and from that point the contest remained close until the final three minutes in the fourth.
“We came out a little flat but we kept stressing to the guys to pick up the intensity defensively,” Jordan said. “We knew our defense could keep us in the game.”
McDaniel, a junior, scored nine points in the second quarter to give the Hawks (1-0) a 29-23 halftime advantage.
“We just stayed focused and knew we had to play up,” said McDaniel, who played point guard last year but now feels more comfortable as he’s moved to the wing.
Holly Springs jumped to a 39-30 lead in the third thanks to Justin Wright (10 points), but Wakefield’s Logan Evans scored 10 of his team’s points in an 11-0 run for the Wolverines. Jonathan Smith gave Wakefield its last lead of the game, 41-39, on a fast break bucket late in the period.
Holly Springs led 44-43 entering the fourth, and the game was as close as 50-48 midway through the final quarter before the Hawks pulled away.
“We had some turnovers there that were very uncharacteristic of our kids,” said Wakefield head coach Dexter Cooley. “It was a two-point game there and I felt really good about our chances, but those turnovers led to some easy baskets for Holly Springs.”
Evans (17 points) and Harvey Griffin (13) led Wakefield.