Coming off an emotional win earlier this week, New Hanover got off to a fast start at Ashley on Friday night, but the Screaming Eagles fought back early in the second half before the Wildcats emerged down the stretch to grab a 70-57 victory on Friday night.
Four different players finished in double figures for New Hanover as Blake Smith and Ramello Williams held team-high honors with 17 points apiece.
“We had a great first quarter and didn’t play very well after that,” said New Hanover Coach Kirk Angel. “We came out with a lot of intensity, but just let up after that and can’t do that.”
The Wildcats led by as many as 20 with just under six minutes to play in the opening half thanks to a strong effort during the first quarter. Trailing by three after Bryston Davis knocked down the first field goal of the game from long range, New Hanover responded with a 9-0 run to go up six and Smith sank back-to-back treys after a floater by Williams to grab the lead, 17-6.
Good ball movement between Williams and Accaheus Fields led to a two-point jumper by Smith towards the end of the frame and the junior sharpshooter sank his fourth three-pointer of the quarter to make it 24-11 after eight minutes of play.
New Hanover held an 11-point advantage at the break and led 40-30 when Qadhafi Turner drained his first three-ball in four tries to spark the Ashley comeback. Turner added another basket from behind the arc on the next possession to close the deficit to four, while Ryan Keller grabbed a steal and assist to Turner for two points to close an 8-0 push.
Turner had a team-high 17 points for the Screaming Eagles, while Keller added 13 points. Josh Smiley also finished with 12 points in the setback.
“We talked about it all week and knew New Hanover is a tough team,” said Ashley Coach Web Guthrie. “Tonight was a game of toughness and got to make foul shots. All the credit to them, but I thought we got a lot better and grew up a little tonight. We have to respond now.”
That’s as close as the Screaming Eagles would get as Shaq Hampton answered the call for the Wildcats. The senior got a reverse lay-in to fall to make it 42-38 and scored the next four points, while taking a charge on the defensive end of the floor to force an Ashley turnover. An offensive rebound and put back by Hampton made it an eight-point advantage and Smith dropped his fifth three-ball from deep on the wing to close a 9-2 spurt as New Hanover carried a 49-40 advantage headed into the fourth quarter.
The Screaming Eagles were able to get back to within six with six minutes to go in regulation after Daitreon Daye got a tough lay-in to fall, but the Wildcats stayed consistent from the free throw line as Fields sank all six of his attempts from the charity stripe to close out the victory.
Hampton added 12 points, while Fields finished with 14 points and five assists. Williams also notched a double-double with 13 rebounds.
“We’re thinking about Monday now,” said Angel. “We’ve got a good one against South Central, ranked No. 10 in the state. After that, we have an entire week off so it’ll be important to keep the momentum going. We found a way to win tonight and that’s important.”
New Hanover moved to 6-0 atop the division standings and 14-3 overall. Ashley fell to 2-3 in conference and 8-8 on the year.
West Brunswick 75 Topsail 63
West Brunswick extended its season-high win streak to six straight games as the Trojans grabbed a 75-63 win over Topsail in Hampstead on Friday.
Ty Hill led all scorers with 19 points and dished seven assists. Xavier Gause chipped in with 16 points.
West Brunswick moved to 3-1 in league play and 10-3 overall. The Trojans face East Carteret in the MLK Jam at Union High School on Monday, Jan. 18.
Topsail dropped to 0-5 in the division and 4-11 on the year.
Laney 60 South Brunswick 42
The Bucs finished a perfect week in conference play following a 60-42 road victory at South Brunswick on Friday.
Laney got off to a fast start as Sherod Sidbury paced the scoring attack with a game-high 17 points. Chris Bennett added 11 points and Marquan Miller put in seven for the Bucs, who moved to 3-2 in league play and 9-7 overall.
North Brunswick 68 Southwest Onslow 66 (OT)
Mitch Layton put in a game-high 20 points to led North Brunswick in a 68-66 overtime win against Southwest Onslow.
Josh Smith added 13 points in the result as the Scorpions moved to 2-0 in conference and 8-6 on the year.
Coastal Christian 57 Fayetteville Academy 55
The Centurions grabbed a key conference win on Friday night as the Centurions edged Fayetteville Academy 57-55 to improve to 3-1 in league play.
Brian Howell recorded his twelfth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Harrells Christian 66 Cape Fear Academy 33
CJ Kirchoff led all scorers with 21 points as Harrells Christian cruised past Cape Fear Academy 66-33 on Friday.
Quate Mckinzie finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, while Marcus Scarborough put in an all-around effort with 14 points, eight steals and six assists.