The crosstown rivalry between New Hanover and Hoggard was alive and well at Brogden Hall on Tuesday night as the Mideastern Conference matchup came down to the final minutes of regulation.
Trailing by two with 3:01 left, the Wildcats went on a 7-2 spurt thanks to the efforts of sophomore Ramello Williams, who scored all seven points during the stretch to give New Hanover a 58-53 victory to remain unbeaten in league play.
“We’ve got to keep the momentum going,” said New Hanover Coach Kirk Angel. “Our schedule this season has helped us stayed composed in games like that. We schedule that for a reason and it showed tonight.”
Williams saw limited action in the contest due to an ankle injury he’s been dealing with for the last couple of weeks, but the New Hanover guard tied the game 51-51 with 2:31 remaining after Xavier Johnson kissed the glass from low post to put Hoggard in front by two in a game that included 27 lead changes.
A steal by Williams on the next Vikings possession put the second year varsity player on the free throw line. He hit one of two from the charity stripe to give the Wildcats a lead it would not give up. After a pair of foul shots by Jack Bagley brought Hoggard to within one, Williams drove baseline for two points and Wiz Vaughn gave New Hanover its largest lead of the game by converting two foul shots to secure the win.
“Ramello [Williams] is pretty banged up, but came up huge in crunch time,” Angel added. “We put in him back in there because of his mindset and the type of kid he is. He sucked it up tonight.”
Acchaeus Fields led New Hanover with 18 points, eight of which came early in the fourth quarter to keep pace with the Vikings, who had an eight-point lead after a 9-0 run in the second quarter.
Fields and Malique Jacobs answered the call late in the first half to get New Hanover to within two at the break, 24-22. Hoggard had its largest lead of the game at 24-16 when Johnson threw down his second thunderous dunk of the game following a missed shot by Jacobs on the other end of the floor.
Johnson finished with 18 points, while A.J. Frye chipped in with 17 points for the Vikings, who fell to 3-2 in league play and 10-6 overall.
“We toyed with some zone on defense and we’ve been good in it, but they game planned for it,” Angel said. “We told them at halftime we just had to guard. We needed to sit down and it’s going to be about effort and heart.”
The seesaw battle continued into the second half as each team responded on nearly every offensive possession. Frye drained his lone three-ball of the game for the 27-26 edge early in the third quarter, but Fields got a shot to fall in the lane to go back up by one. A three-pointer by Walker Batman put the Vikings in front 30-28 when Jacobs answered for the Wildcats.
Jacobs and Fields hit for a combined 15 of 24 as New Hanover shot 46.9 percent from the floor. The Wildcats also went 12-for-16 from the free throw line. Fields pulled down seven rebounds, while Freddie Taylor dished five assists and grabbed five steals.
New Hanover improved to 5-0 in conference, with a two-game lead atop the division standings. The Wildcats moved to 13-3 overall and get back on the floor for a date with Ashley on Friday, Jan. 15.
Laney 47 Ashley 40
Marquan Miller scored a game-high 17 points to give Laney its second result over Ashley this season following a 47-40 road win on Tuesday night.
The Bucs evened their conference mark to 2-2 and improved to 8-7 overall. Ashley dropped to 2-2 in league play and 8-7 on the year.
Laney carried a 33-28 lead into the fourth quarter. Miller scored seven of his game-high 17 points in the final frame, while Chris Bennett chipped in with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Jordan John scored his only basket to push Laney’s lead to 10 late in the game after the Screaming Eagles cut the deficit to five with five minutes left in regulation. Qadhafi Turner led Ashley with a team-high 16 points.
It was a one-point game after the opening eight minutes of play and the Bucs took a two-possession lead into the break.
Miller sank a three-ball with 3:25 left in the third quarter to give Laney a 32-25 advantage, but Turner responded from long range to stay within striking distance. The senior point guard sank four treys in the effort.
Harrells Christian 54 Coastal Christian 50
Fayetteville Academy 58 Cape Fear Academy 38