SMITHFIELD — The Knightdale boys basketball team had the final possession in Tuesday’s game against Smithfield-Selma and made it count as the Knights pulled off a dramatic victory over the Spartans in league play.
Kaelon Weldon’s three-pointer at the buzzer lifted the Knights to the 57-54 win and capped off a wild finish to a back-and-forth contest between two evenly matched teams.
Smithfield-Selma (7-2, 1-1 Greater Neuse River 4A) pushed its lead to four points on a Montel Shepherd jumper in the lane with a minute-and-a-half remaining.
Knightdale’s Ronshad Allen-Shabazz countered, however, with an acrobatic shot in the paint to cut the lead in half.
In uncharacteristic fashion, Smithfield-Selma launched a quick 3-pointer that missed its mark and opened the door for Knightdale. Allen-Shabazz made the home team pay, tying the contest just seconds later.
After the Spartans missed a shot from close range, the Knights (7-3, 2-0) similarly seemed to waste their opportunity at grabbing victory in regulation when they turned the ball over with one second remaining.
In an attempt to fling the ball down the court for one last potential game-winning attempt, the Spartans’ inbounds pass hit the gym curtain just beneath the ceiling to set up the final opportunity for Knightdale.
Senior Montez Wilson then inbounded the ball to Weldon, who nailed the shot from the top of the arc as the buzzer sounded.
“We were fortunate there; the only way we get the ball there is if they hit the top,” Knightdale coach Battle Watkins said. “The odds of that are not very good. Sometimes when you’re on quest for a good season, you have one of these moments.”
The shot and the way game ended blemished what was an otherwise solid performance turned in by the Spartans.
“We can use this as a stepping stone or a stumbling block,” Smithfield-Selma coach James Robinson said. “We can play with anybody when we play right.
“We’ll come back tomorrow, keep working and be better for it.”
Jeremiah David paced Smithfield-Selma with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Shepherd added 15 points.
Allen-Shabazz led the Knights with 21 points, including nine points in the fourth quarter. Weldon contributed 17 points and seven rebounds.
“I’m proud of my guys because we have not been in a situation like this playing on the road against a team who is playing well,” Watkins said of his squad. “I’m so proud of my guys for figuring out a way to win, but I’m not sure how they did it.
“Our captains came through and made a big play for us at the end there. It’s fun to see the older kids in a big situation convert.”