Headng into Tuesday’s finale of the Bunn Christmas Tournament, Corinth Holders’ boys basketball squad had seen five of its games this season be determined by four points or less. And four of those contests had resulted in losses, including two in overtime.
In the estimation of coach Chris Davis, the Pirates didn’t just leave Bunn with a tourney trophy after edging Wakefield by a 55-51 margin in a to-the-wire title contest at the Bunn Dome. Davis feels like his club gained a newfound confidence, along with an ability to make clutch plays when necessary.
That’s because Corinth Holders (7-5) saw a 12-point lead evaporate against a scrappy Wakefield (3-9) crew in the final two minutes. But the Pirates went ahead for good when Tournament Most Valuable Player Brian Frazier converted a layup off a nifty feed from Coby Cox with just four seconds remaining.
“We got behind and were able to regroup,’’ Davis said. “We didn’t panic, maybe because we have been in so many close games. Since we’ve been in this situation, we knew what to do. The difference was that we were able to get the win.’’
The Wolverines stayed within striking distance long enough to have a chance at the end — and Wakefield gained only its second advantage of the game when Aaron Burress followed his own shot with a stickback at the 14-second mark.
During the ensuring time-out, Davis called for a play that was designed for Cox to speed the ball upcourt, where Frazier would be waiting off a screen from teammate Trey Adams. Wakefield, however, surprised the Panthers by showing press on the inbounds play. But when the Wolverines retreated into a man-to-man, Davis’ plan was able to come to fruition. Cox made his way toward the top of the key before bouncing a pass to Frazier, who was fouled while scoring.
“Just like we drew it up!,’’ Davis shouted with glee while jumping into the air following the referee’s whistle.
Frazier missed his free toss, but Adams was there for a rebound. Three more freebies from Khalil Bryant, including two off a technical foul, finished off the scoring.
“I usually don’t like to run a play that we haven’t worked on in practice, but it worked in this situation,’’ Davis said. “We thought we could score if Trey could get that screen set. If Wakefield had stayed with the press, we probably would have gotten to half-court and called time-out to set up something else. We just drew up the play in the huddle.’’
Three who mattered
Brian Frazier, Corinth Holders: Frazier, a smooth wing who transferred from North Johnston scored 11 points — the same number he delivered during the Pirates’ semifinal decision over host Bunn. Frazier tacked on three assists and four rebounds to go with his game-winning layup.
Aaron Burress, Wakefield: The Wolverines’ All-Tournament honoree notched 14 points and provided senior leadership for a club that continued to play hard despite falling behind by 32-20 in the early portion of the third period.
Kalen Cooper, Corinth Holders: Not necessarily known for his offensive prowess, Cooper, a 6-foot-8 post, offered 12 points on 6-of-8 field-goal shooting, He also pulled down eight rebounds.
“That was the best Kalen has shot all year,’’ Davis said.
They said it
“We had a lot of effort,’’ said Wakefield coach Mickey Bissette. “It’s kind of a repetitious that we do the right things to win, but a couple of things happen to keep that from happening. I’m not sure if it’s a lack of experience or what it is. But we are better than a 3-9 basketball team.’’
By the numbers
10: Corinth Holders boasted 10 different scorers in Tuesday’s championship matchup as part of a balanced offensive attack.
8: The number of Pirates who have led the club in scoring in at least one outing this season.
30:17: The time it took for Wakefield to gain its first lead off a driving basket from Phillip Protz with 1:43 remaining in the fourth period. Frazier counterded with a bucket at the 35-second mark before Burress converted in what looked to be the winner before the Pirates struck one final time.