Sometimes one well-timed bucket — even one that doesn’t come in the fourth quarter — can turn a high school basketball game on a dime.
And that’s what happened for Corinth Holders Friday in its boys basketball game with Johnston County rival Smithfield-Selma.
The visitors seemed to be in control of things until Khalil Bryant knocked in a 40-footer at the third-quarter buzzer to cut the deficit to three points, starting an 11-0 run from which the visitors never recovered in a 55-44 Pirate victory.
The win improved Corinth Holders to 4-13, 2-2 in Two Rivers 3A play, while SSS fell to 6-10 and 1-3.
Stephen Adams led the Pirates with 19 points, followed by Matt Minga with 12 and Bryant 10. Six of Bryant’s points came on the long 3-pointer, then another 3 to tie the game for the final time with 7:23 left.
“I think that ball was wet when it came back into the atmosphere,” Pirate coach Chris Davis said of Bryant’s buzzer shot. “There was some arc on that thing. But we know he can make that shot. I want him to take it in that situation, and that got us going.
“We waited too long to get ourselves going sometimes and got outside of what we were trying to do. But in the fourth quarter we got what we wanted. The outside shots made our inside stuff easier. We know the whole conference is tight and every game really matters, so this one was big.”
Malik Frazier had 14 points and Raequan Smith 13 for SSS.
Four technical fouls were called in the game, two against each team, but none against either bench.
“We need to grow up,” said SSS coach James Robinson, whose team is playing without its former starting point guard who became academically ineligible at the semester break. “Eight technicals in one year is embarrassing, and we’ve had at least one in the last four games. I’m tired of using youth as an excuse. We’re playing a varsity sport and need to act like varsity players.
“Defensively, the first half was as good as we’ve played all season. We stopped them on nine straight possessions. Unfortunately, we quit running offense. Khalil hit some big shots for them and it only takes one to get him going. That (buzzer-beater) picked them up and took the wind out of our sails. Give him credit for that.”
Bryant had hit a long buzzer-beater to end a quarter earlier this season, but said Friday’s bomb may have been the biggest shot he had ever hit.
“It was a good shot,” Bryant said with a smile. “It was a good momentum-builder. This is just a big win. We really need every one we can get in the conference.”
Adams said he was of course happy with the win, and hopes his team learned from a rough performance over the first three quarters.
“This was a good team win,” Adams said. “We can do big things in the conference if we just play together like we did in the fourth quarter tonight.
“We started kind of slow - I don’t think our mental preparation was good going into the game. But when we got into the flow we started to click and play better.”