When the going gets tough, Ian Boyd and John Kitoko get going.
The standout Apex High basketball players combined for 41 points as the visiting Cougars edged Green Hope 63-57 in a pivotal Southwest Wake Athletic Conference game Friday night. With the win, Apex surged ahead of Green Hope by two games in the conference, improving to 9-6 (6-0 SWAC).
The Falcons (8-8, 4-2) gave the Cougars just about everything they had, taking a 17-11 first quarter lead as Jack Costigan netted 10 of his team-high 15 points. The senior guard, and UNC-Asheville recruit, was brilliant in scoring a variety of ways, including a jumper, a layup and a long-distance bomb.
Boyd struggled in guarding Costigan, even picking up three quick fouls. That forced Kitoko to take over, which the senior forward did marvelously in holding Costigan to just one second quarter basket.
Apex picked up its play on the offensive end, as well, with Kitoko scoring seven of his 15 points in the stanza to help the Cougars forge a 29-26 lead at the break.
“I realized I had to post-up and take control,” Kitoko explained. “It feels good to play well under pressure and we know we can come through in those situations.”
Boyd feasted on the Falcons in the second half.
He collected 15 of his 26 points after intermission and also contributed key rebounds and steals on the defensive end.
“We talked about the importance of getting a win here,” Boyd said. “We just had to keep attacking, finding the open man and keep shooting.”
Green Hope hung with Apex most of the way, as Jack Egel (14 points) drilled a 3-pointer with 18.2 seconds left to bring his team within 60-57. The Falcons blew a layup in the closing seconds and Apex hit its free throws down the stretch, including a pair from Kitoko, to seal the win.
“Give Green Hope credit for not going away,” said Apex coach David Neal. “But John did a great job on Costigan and Ian was awesome on the offensive end.”
Green Hope coach John Green said Apex’s clutch play was the difference.
“We came out with a lot of effort and intensity and our shot selection was good early on,” Green said. “But great teams find a way to win and that's what the Cougars did.”