WENDELL — Corinth Holders boys basketball coach Chris Davis trusts his point guard Kahlil Larry.
And after a heads up play late in the Pirates’ championship game against Enloe in the Corinth Holders Holiday Classic Friday night that helped Corinth Holders with the title for the second year in a row, it’s easy to see why.
Enloe’s Pervis Louder gave the Eagles a one-point lead on a put-back dunk with 50 seconds left in the game. Undaunted, Larry took the inbounds pass and shocked the Eagles by racing down the court and laying the ball up and in just seven seconds later for the eventual game-winning basket in the Pirates’ 54-53 triumph.
“I’ve got a lot of confidence in Kahlil Larry,” Davis said. “He’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever coached so I knew when that dunk went down, if the ball got in his hands, he was going to do the right thing.
“He didn’t show them initially how fast he was but, all of a sudden, here comes that streak of lightning right by everybody.”
Enloe had three chances to then deny the host Pirates in the game’s final seconds, but the Pirates’ defense was up to the challenge.
The Eagles (7-4) were initially thwarted when the Pirates’ Klilah Cox barely deflected an attempted pass to Enloe’s Micah Turner who was otherwise wide open under the basket.
Then with 6.9 seconds left, Enloe inbounded the ball to Shawn McGee who was able to get a hotly contested shot off that bounced off the rim into the hands of Louder. Louder’s put-back effort was more difficult this time with the Pirates’ defense collapsing around him and proved to be too strong as the Pirates’ Hampton Smith corralled the rebound and sealed the win.
“We worked really well on defense on those last couple of possessions scurrying to the ball better than we had done all night long,” Davis said. “We didn’t do a great job with our help side defense all night long but we stepped it up on those two plays.
“It looked like we wanted to win the game.”
The game stayed tight throughout with the Pirates’ six-point lead at the end of the first quarter being the biggest advantage either team enjoyed all night long.
It was Enloe’s help defense that frustrated the Corinth Holders offense for much of the night. Cox often worked his way into the lane only to often find three Eagle defenders there waiting for him.
With the lane clogged and forced to shoot from the outside, the usual stellar outside shooting the Pirates have come to rely on just wasn’t there.
Corinth Holders (9-1) ended the night 3/14 from three-point range.
But Cox (20 points) and Larry (14), who were both named to the all tournament team, provided the Pirates with enough punch to be in position at the end of the game to win when Larry was able to finally work his way into the paint just moments after what could have been a demoralizing Enloe dunk.
“I’ve been dunked on plenty of times in my career so it didn’t phase me at all,” Larry joked. “I just wanted to give my team the back-to-back (championships). I just wanted to win.”
Enloe’s sophomore point guard Antonio Watson was named to the all tournament team as were East Wake’s Quincy Jackson and Smithfield-Selma’s Jeremiah David.
Corinth Holders defeated East Wake 64-57 in the first round of the tournament making it two 4A teams the 2A Pirates defeated to claim the title.
“We beat two good teams to win this thing,” Davis said. “I’m pleased with that.”
East Wake beat Smithfield-Selma 66-60 in the boys consolation game.