In typical Cap-8 Conference fashion, Broughton and Sanderson boys’ basketball fought to the bitter end.
In the third showdown of the season, the Capitals completed the sweep of the Spartans, pulling away late for a 51-45 victory in the opening round of the Cap-8 tournament on Tuesday. In the seesaw affair, the Caps were clutch at the foul line when it counted.
After the two teams exchanged turnovers, Broughton senior Tharon Suggs knocked down three free throws to push the lead to three. After Sanderson’s Antonio Freeman made it a four-point game with 22 seconds left, Jalen Finch iced the game with two more from the charity stripe.
But the Caps had to sweat it out down to the end.
“We did hit some free throws, but prior to that I felt like we made a stop or two defensively,” Broughton coach Jeff Ferrell said. “We ran a little time off the clock and made them play us a little bit defensively. That afforded us a couple of opportunities to the basket, a couple of dribble penetrations.”
That led to several appearances at the line for Suggs, who was more than willing to step to the stripe at crucial moments.
“I love the free throws,” Suggs said. “I’ll hold the ball to make sure any team fouls me.”
Broughton beat Sanderson by 21 the last time the two teams played 14 days ago. Human nature, especially amongst teenagers, could cause someone to overlook a team you handled pretty easy the last time out. Ferrell said there was no talk of the last time from him. Suggs acknowledged the Caps looked back at the last win, but knew that would mean nothing this time around.
“We got a big win last time and we came out relaxed, thinking it would be an easy win,” he said. “When you play teams like that, they already know you, so you have to come out and play because anybody can beat anybody on any given night.”
Sanderson looked primed to pull the upset several times. The Spartans dug themselves out of a hole in the first half, battling back from a 17-9 deficit to tie the game at 17. The game was tied 21 at the half, and at 33 early in the fourth.
Sanderson’s last lead was 39-38 after a 3 from Taj Thompson. The Spartans got a stop, but Broughton guard Will Baldwin stole and was fouled going in for the layup. He scored the bucket and hit the ensuing free throw to change the tide of the game.
The Spartans got within two, 42-20, after a layup from Marcus Greene, but couldn’t get over the hump to tie or take the lead.
“I thought we played really hard,” Sanderson coach Mike Shaw said. “I thought it came down to some mistakes we made and they didn’t. I felt like that was the difference in the game. Some turnovers, some missed box outs. That was the difference.”
In the fourth quarter, Baldwin got a steal near halfcourt. He attacked the rim, scoring the layup while drawing the foul. Baldwin knocked down the free throw, completing the three-point play. The Capitals led by one when Baldwin got the steal. After he knocked down the free throw, Broughton had a four-point lead and the momentum had turned.
“We talked about our defense being able to create some offense for us, trying to spark our offense,” Ferrell said. “To get a play like that where it’s a transition, to get the bucket and the foul, that was big.”
They said it
Broughton came in as the No. 3 seed and the favorite in the contest. But for most of the night it looked like somebody forgot to tell that to the Spartans.
“We’ve played in a lot of games close like this, so we don’t shy away from these situations,” Fox said.
Those to know
Tharon Suggs, Broughton: Senior guard finished with a team-high 14 points, nine coming in the second half.
Aaron Gottfried, Broughton: Gottfried was on fire in the first half, scoring seven of his 12 points. He knocked down a crucial three in the first half, part of a 10-2 Caps’ run to push their lead to 17-9.
“Everyone has to play their part,” Gottfried said. “My part is to hit shots. That’s what I do best for the team. Being able to do that, that’s what I’m there to do.”
Antonio Freeman, Sanderson: The Spartans big man led his team with 12 points.
Taj Thompson, Sanderson: Scored nine points for the Spartans, all coming in the second half.
By the numbers
5 Numbers of free throws the Capitals hit in the final minute and 15 seconds to ice the game.
4 Number of foul shots hit by Suggs in the final minute to put the Caps up .
9 Number of points in the second half by Suggs.
8 Broughton’s biggest lead of the game.
Cap-8 tournament scores
No. 1 Millbrook 86, No. 8 Wakefield 58
No. 4 Leesville Road 69, No. 5 Wake Forest 45
No. 2 Heritage 81, No. 7 Enloe 48
Round 2 starts Wednesday at 5:30 at Broughton. The finals will be at 7 p.m. Friday.