Coming out of a timeout with 11.6 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, Hoggard forward Xavier Johnson took over possession in the low post and used a strong move to the basket for the game-winner as time expired to grab a 45-43 victory over Ashley on Friday night.
Johnson scored 10 of his game-high 14 points after the break and recorded a double-double with 10 rebounds.
“I just wanted the ball in my hands,” said Johnson. “My teammates and my coaches put me in the best position to score. We called the play and needed everyone to execute with our passes. I just made sure I caught the call and didn’t drop it. It was important for us to get the win and start 2-0 in conference.”
The Vikings used a 10-0 run through the second half to grab its largest lead of the game 38-28 before the Screaming Eagles stormed back after a four minute scoring drought. A three-ball by Josh Smiley closed the deficit to seven and Ryan Keller hit a short baseline jumper to make it a two possession game before Johnston recorded an offensive rebound and put back at the midway point of the fourth quarter.
A move in the paint from Bryston Davis kept the deficit at five for Ashley and Omara Sharaf grabbed a steal and coast-to-coast lay-in to get within four with a timeout on the floor and 2:42 left in the final frame.
Both teams traded baskets on the following possession before the Screaming Eagles hit back-to-back shots to tie the game 43-43 with under a minute to go in regulation.
“We had some momentum going and up by 10 and [I] called a timeout, which ended up being not the right thing to do,” said Hoggard Coach Brett Queen. “I thought we needed a rest and maybe to focus a bit more defensively, but we were terrible during a little stretch there.
“Ashley matches up against us well and I expected it to be a tough game tonight. We were sluggish in a lot of aspects tonight, but Xavier made a heck of a play there at the end. He rebounded well all night long and made a huge difference for us.”
As the seesaw battled continued into the second half with Ashley in front 20-19 at the break, a 7-0 spurt late in the third quarter gave Hoggard its first lead of more than two possessions when Johnson cleaned up on the offensive glass to go ahead 35-28 headed into the final eight minutes.
Robert Wilkerson started the push with a hard drive to the basket and Charles Stanfield knocked down his only field goal of the night from long range before Johnson got a put-back to fall.
Walker Bateman hit three treys to finish with nine points for Hoggard and A.J. Frye added nine points in the result.
“We’re 2-0 in the conference and that’s where we wanted to be heading into the break,” Queen added. “These games in the county are going to be wars every night and we have a chance here to play in a couple of tournaments against some really good competition over the next few weeks. We’re going to have to sharpen things up if we’re going be what we have the potential to be.”
Ashley carried a 13-8 advantage after the opening eight minutes of action thanks to five points from Davis and a couple of baskets by Sharaf. The Screaming Eagles took their first lead since the opening two-point bucket with Noah Surratt’s only points of the game to go up 16-15 with six minutes to play in the first half.
Ryan Keller finished with a team-high 10 points and six rebounds for Ashley, but the senior forward was on the bench for a five minute span to close the second quarter after picking up three fouls.
The Screaming Eagles fell to 1-1 in conference and 7-3 overall. Hoggard improved to 2-0 in league play and 6-1 on the year.
New Hanover 64 South Brunswick 26
The Wildcats continued its early season success with a 64-26 rout over South Brunswick at Brogden Hall on Friday night.
Blake Smith dropped a game-high 20 points, going 6 of 8 from behind the arc, while Malique Jacobs closed with nine points, five assists and three steals.
New Hanover forced a running clock with two minutes left in the first half and took a 51-13 advantage into the break. Ramello Williams added seven points in the win.
Laney 64 Topsail 59
Sherod Sidbury led the way with 18 points and Chris Bennett added 11 points as Laney grabbed a 64-59 victory over Topsail. The result was Coach Nathan Faulk’s 100th career coaching win.