The Kestrel Heights boys basketball team edged Raleigh Charter 46-39 Friday night with good late-game executive and key defensive plays. In the girls game prior to the boys’ tilt, the Phoenixcame out on top with a big 51-32 defeat over the Hawks.
Hawks slow it down to pick up win
During the boys game, Raleigh Charter (4-4, 3-2) slowed the game down in the first half to prevent the fast break-minded Hawks (8-1, 3-0) from too many easy looks.
“Often times we tend to play a little bit of an uglier game, which played to our advantage in the first half,” said Raleigh Charter coach Casey Hester. “They like to push the ball, make you make mistakes and get layups. We did a good job controlling the tempo even if it was not a pretty sight in the first half.”
The Phoenix came out of the break with three productive possessions, showing a renewed spirit. Raleigh Charter guard Will Blackburn punctuated the third quarter with a floater at the buzzer to give his team a 30-28 lead, and more importantly, momentum.
With Kestrel Heights searching for consistent offense, coach Lenell Wallace tried a different method. Borrowing the idea behind the “four corners” offense famous in pre-shot clock era college basketball, the Hawks guards would rotate and pass to each other outside the 3-point line before penetrating when a lane opened. The strategy worked, and big man David Mangum benefited with six points in the paint.
“He went to work,” Wallace said. “We went to him and he came through.”
With 2:15 to go, Kestrel Heights starting forward Marcotis Hall fouled out, and Raleigh Charter’s Patrick Powers sank two free throws to cut the score to 40-37. Powers led the Phoenix with 11 points.
That could’ve been a turning point, but Hawks guard Javier Rogers stepped up for his team. He had eight points in the fourth quarter and 19 overall, leading all scorers.
Raleigh Charter would have chances to tie the game, and it was a one-possession game still with about 30 seconds remaining, but Kestrel Heights tightened its defense.
With 29 seconds remaining, Mangum stepped in and took a charge on Ajay Bezawada, who had eight points on the night. On the next possession, Treyon Brooks dove on a loose ball and immediately called timeout to regain possession.
“Before I came out I said we’ve only had three people to take a charge and David wasn’t one of them,” Wallace said. “We talked about getting on the floor. Treyon got on the floor. That’s what it takes to win a game, and that’s what he gave us.”
Raleigh Charter girls unbeaten in NCAC
Before the boys game, the Raleigh Charter girls played with great intensity in its rout over Kestrel Heights (5-3, 2-1).
The Phoenix (6-3, 5-0) wanted to contain the Hawks’ top player, Ciara Edmonds, and the game plan worked.
“We wanted to go defense first,” said Raleigh Charter coach Bobby Lyons. “We knew Ciara was a good player, just wanted to keep her out of the game as much as possible, so once we keyed in on her and tired to kept her calm, our offense got going.”
Paige Huguely took advantage of a lackadaisical zone defense and scored eight in the first quarter. She led all players with 18 overall.
It was really a balanced effort, though. Christina Whetzel and Camryn McClure each had 10, Madison Brna had nine and Kana Parker scored eight.
But as Lyons said, it started with defense. That was quickly apparent as Raleigh Charter led 12-2 after the first quarter.
“It gave us the confidence to say we can beat this team,” Lyons said. “It was huge for us to get that lead and for them not being able to score early.”