WAKE FOREST — Both Knightdale and Wake Forest-Rolesville had been in their fair share of recent nail-biters leading into Thursdays nonconference match, and it was sure to be no different when the two teams got together.
The Knights held a slight edge for much of the game, trailed in the fourth quarter, but came out on top, 78-75.
We had the feel that it was going to be close no matter what, said Knightdale coach Battle Watkins.
Knightdale (8-3, 2-0) had come out on top of its two previous games, two- and three-point wins over Greater Neuse River Conference foes East Wake and Smithfield-Selma, respectively. Wake Forest-Rolesville (5-4, 1-1) split its last two Cap Eight contests, topping Heritage by one point and giving up a 22-point third quarter lead in an overtime loss to Enloe.
With the Knights and Cougars tied at the end of the first and second quarters, and separated by just one point to start the fourth, Thursdays game came down to a long shot at the buzzer that could have sent the game to overtime.
Wake Forest-Rolesville coach Mickey Bissette put sophomore Xavier Robinson in the game with Knightdales Ronshad Allen-Shabazz at the line and 1.6 seconds remaining. Allen-Shabazz split the free throws with the second bouncing to Robinson.
Robinson took one dribble and threw up a shot from three-fourths the length of the court that just missed, hitting the heel of the rim as time expired.
The shot capped a back-and-forth final quarter that included four ties and five lead changes.
Jordan Ayscue led Wake Forest-Rolesville early in the final frame, scoring all of the teams 11 points through the first four minutes to push the Cougars into the lead. He would finish with a team-high 21 points.
Down three points with two minutes to go, Allen-Shabazz took over for the Knights, playing a pivotal role in the games end.
The sophomore was fouled on a lay-up, completed the shot and made the free throw to tie the game at 69.
Wake Forests Jamaree Robertson put the home team back ahead by converting two free throws after being fouled on the ensuing possession, but Knightdales Daquan Lilly answered with a 3-pointer followed by Kaelon Weldons 15-footer to put the Knights ahead 74-71 with 40 seconds remaining.
Ayscue, whose hot hand had propelled the Cougars early in the quarter, was fouled on a 3-point attempt with 24.6 seconds left.
The senior made two of three shots, to bring Wake Forest within one point.
The Cougars fouled Allen-Shabazz on a Knightdale inbound play, but the sophomore missed both free throw attempts and then fouled Wake Forests Juwan Clifton on the other end.
Clifton calmly sank the first and rattled in the second to put the Cougars back on top by one with 14.1 seconds on the clock.
Knightdales Allen-Shabazz quickly made up for it on the other end, taking the ball the length of the court where he was fouled on a made basket. He would make that free throw to give Knightdale a lead it wouldnt relinquish.
He knows that when we have one shot to take, hes going to take it, Watkins said. Hes a mature player, as a sophomore, to know not to hang your head and to get back in there.
Allen-Shabazz led all scorers with 27 points. His teammate Weldon followed closely behind with 23.
Bissette said the Cougars need to get better defensively and the team is still working to smooth out its offense.
I think the fact that we play hard keeps us in most games most nights, he said. Even though were 5-4, I think were a good team.
Robertson added 15 points for Wake Forest.