The final regular season matchup between Hoggard and Ashley came down to the wire on Tuesday night as the Vikings made enough plays down the stretch to grab a 39-36 victory in Mideastern Conference basketball action.
Hoggard extended its win streak to five straight to improve to 8-2 in league play and 15-7 overall. Meanwhile, the Screaming Eagles dropped to 4-5 in the division and 10-10 on the year.
Both teams struggled to find the bottom of the net throughout much of the contest, but senior Xavier Johnson rebounded from a tough start and scored nine of his team-high 13 points over the final eight minutes of regulation.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well,” said Hoggard Coach Brett Queen. “I’m really proud of the way Xavier responded after struggling and moving past that. He had a terrific fourth quarter and there were times earlier in his career where he would not have been able to give us what he gave us in that fourth quarter. He showed a lot of maturity and it’s what you expect from your seniors this time of year.”
Trailing 35-34 with less than one minute remaining after Ryan Keller hit a two-point basket for Ashley, Johnson took control in low post and got a turnaround to fall for the game-winner with 22 seconds left. Jack Bagley hit 1 of 2 from the foul line on the next possession and Walker Bateman knocked down a pair of free throws to seal the three-point result.
The Vikings had another strong game from the charity stripe, connecting on 11 of 12 attempts, while Bateman and Patrick Morrison each knocked down one three-pointer in the victory.
“We did a great job from the free throw line again,” Queen added. “Walker [Bateman] hitting those free throws down the stretch was big. Patrick Morrison gave us a really good lift in the first half offensively and got us a couple of buckets.”
Ashley led by five at the midway point of the fourth period after Daitreon Daye hit a runner in the lane to go up 27-22, but Johnson responded with a two-handed flush to keep it a one-possession game. A.J. Frye recorded a bucket and one with 1:53 left to keep the Vikings within three to set up the dramatic finish.
Two key turnovers by the Screaming Eagles inside the two minute mark led to fast break points for Johnson and free throws by Bateman, giving Hoggard a 34-33 advantage.
“When we can win a game on the road when we don’t get our best offensive production from the couple of guys we’re counting on you’ve got to feel good,” said Queen. “We changed some things late and played some more man defense, which got them out of rhythm and forced a few turnovers.
“At this point in time it doesn’t matter what the score is or how pretty it is, the important thing is winning.”
The crosstown foes were tied at six after the opening period and Hoggard took a 16-13 lead into the break. The third quarter saw just six total points and a six-minute scoring drought as the Vikings maintained a one-point edge headed to the final frame.
Jiques Morant had a team-high nine points for Ashley. Keller added eight and Bryston Davis finished with seven.
Hoggard is two games back from top spot in the division heading into Friday’s contest at home against New Hanover. The Screaming Eagles travel to Laney later this week.
New Hanover 78 South Brunswick 46
The Wildcats cruised to a 78-46 victory over South Brunswick on Tuesday to remain unbeaten in conference.
Senior Acchaeus Fields went 6 of 7 from the field and 3-for-3 from the free throw line to finish with 15 points, while Brenden Freeman chipped in with 10.
New Hanover drained six shots from beyond the arc and shot 56 percent from the field. Freddie Taylor, Ramello Williams and Malique Jacobs added nine points apiece.
With the victory, the Wildcats extended their win streak to four consecutive games improving to 10-0 in the division and 18-4 overall.
Laney 51 Topsail 37
Chris Bennett dropped 22 points to lead Laney in a 51-37 victory at Topsail on Tuesday night.
The Bucs led by four after the first quarter and took a double-digit advantage into the break. They extended the cushion to 40-27 during the opening eight minutes of the second half and secured the win by holding the Pirates to just 10 points in the final period.
Laney moved to 4-5 in conference and 10-11 overall. Topsail fell to 1-9 in division play and 5-15 on the year.
Southwest Onslow 82 North Brunswick 76
Josh Brown led North Brunswick with 20 points.
Coastal Christian 65 Cape Fear Academy 37