Senior Acchaeus Fields scored 12 of his game-high 18 points after the break as New Hanover broke away from West Brunswick to remain unbeaten in conference following a 77-51 win at Brogden Hall on Monday night.
The Wildcats now have a two-game lead in the standings and moved to 7-0 in the division.
“This was for first place in conference and we knew we were going to have to work hard to get the win,” said Fields, who finished 9 of 12 from the field. “I’m excited about where we’re at right now. We’ve been working hard at practice to get better and now just need to focus on the next one at Topsail.”
With the scored tied 30-all and less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Fields sparked a 7-0 spurt following an athletic move in the lane to put New Hanover up by two. Wiz Vaughn used his speed to get to the rim on the next possession and Freddie Taylor knocked down a three-ball from top of the key for the 37-30 lead at the break.
Xavier Gause opened the scoring to start the second half to pull West Brunswick to within five, but a 13-2 run over a three-minute stretch put the game in hand as the Wildcats extended its advantage to 50-33 after Ramello Williams got a lay-in to fall midway through the third quarter.
New Hanover recorded 14 team assists and had four players in double figures. Williams and Shaq Hampton paced the scoring with 15 points apiece. The Wildcats shot 55.4 percent from the floor and connected on 4 of 9 shots from long range.
“We’ve played a lot of close games this year and we just need to keep playing in those situations,” Fields added. “We can’t let the pressure get to us and play for what’s on our chest. It’s not about us. It’s about playing for New Hanover.”
Taylor knocked down his second trifecta during the decisive push, while the sophomore point guard assisted Hampton next time down the floor to round out a dominating second half effort. Taylor added seven points and four assists, while Fields helped control the glass with eight rebounds.
Offensively, Malique Jacobs got New Hanover going with seven of his 12 points in the first half.
West Brunswick grabbed a 14-10 lead with 2:30 to play in the opening frame after Ty Hill knocked down a 16-footer, but an 11-2 run guided the Wildcats to a five-point lead to close out the first quarter.
Hill put in a team-high 15 points for the Trojans, who dropped to 5-2 in league play and 12-5 overall. Tyler Stanley chipped in with 11 points and Josh Woodard finished with eight.
New Hanover faces Topsail on Wednesday, Jan. 27. West Brunswick looks to get back in the win column at Laney on Wednesday.
“We’re going to get everyone’s best shot and we know,” said New Hanover Coach Kirk Angel. “West Brunswick is very well coached and they play extremely hard. This week is like a sectional week in the playoffs with three games in five days and it’s important to get back out there against Topsail.”
W. Brunswick 16-14-8-13=51
New Hanover 21-16-17-23=77
Hoggard 68 Topsail 43
Xavier Johnson and A.J. Frye each finished in double figures to lead Hoggard past Topsail 68-43 at home on Monday.
Johnson had 12 points and Frye chipped in with 10 for the Vikings, who moved to 5-2 in league play and 12-7 overall. Alec Baker led all scorers with 20 points for Topsail.
Hoggard grabbed a season sweep over the Pirates, improving to 9-0 all-time against Topsail.
Ashley 56 South Brunswick 38
Ryan Keller had a double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds to guide Ashley.
Fayetteville Academy 56 Coastal Christian 56