With the way North Central’s luck has been this season, first-year Knights’ head coach Cary Phillips was hoping that at least this one break would go his team’s way.
With the tourney hosts trailing Lugoff-Elgin, 63-60, in Tuesday’s championship game of the Mid-Carolina Credit Union Holiday Tournament at The Castle in Boonetown, North Central had one last chance to send the game into overtime with a 3-point goal. Instead, the shot did everything but drop as the Demons won the title with a 63-60 win over the Knights.
"We had a shot to tie at the end," Phillips said of the final play of the evening and the two-night tournament, "but it did everything but go in. It rimmed out."
The Demons (6-3) held an eight-point advantage in the contest with two minutes to play. The Knights closed the gap to two points with 15 seconds remaining thanks to baskets from Jay Parks, Jeremiah Jenkins and a Cam Holley 3-point jumper with a minute to play which chopped the deficit to a pair.
Needing to foul, the Knights (1-8) put 6-foot-6 L-E center Elliott Campbell on the foul line and the sophomore made one of his two free throws to extend the lead to three points.
NC pushed the ball down the floor and ran a set play, getting the ball to Will Jenkins, who had a clean look from beyond the 3-point line but the ball would not fall the Knights’ way.
"It just wasn’t meant to be," said Phillips of the final shot and, the game.
Phillips said the game plan for the Knights was to take the inside game away from the Demons while not letting the game turn into a 94-foot transition battle.
"I was really proud of the way our guys fought all night we tried to make L-E beat us from behind the arc and take long jump shots," Phillips said. "(L-E) got a little hot in the second quarter and they hit three out of four in the second quarter from (beyond) the 3-point line.
"Other than that, we executed really well and did a good job of not getting into the tempo that L-E wanted to play at, but it just wasn’t meant to be. Hats off to Coach (Garrett) Knight and his team, they earned it."
L-E led, 13-12, after the first quarter and carried a 36-30 advantage into the locker room at halftime. The Demons were on top, 50-43, heading into what was an entertaining fourth quarter of play.
NC was led by a 16-point, 12-rebound performance by sophomore forward Zach Jones. Parks had 11 points and two rebounds while Will Jenkins had 10 points and seven caroms. Sophomore center Jeremiah Jenkins and Holley chipped in with eight points each.
L-E senior Daniel Quattlebaum, who scored 24 points in Monday’s 87-82 first round win over Buford was selected as the tournament most valuable player. He was joined on the all-tourney squad by teammate and freshman forward Bradwin Salmond.
Will Jenkins, who scored 22 points while pulling down 13 rebounds in NC’s two games with L-E and Robert E. Lee Academy, represented the hosts on the all-tourney squad which also included Druw Rollings from third-place finisher Buford. Robert E. Lee Academy’s Clayton Chewning rounded out the squad which was selected by the four head coaches.
Lady Demons fall to Johnsonville:
Johnsonville held off a gutsy effort from Lugoff-Elgin to knock off the Lady Demons, 39-28, in the third place game of the Lady Whirlwinds Invitational played in Timmonsville on Tuesday night.
The host Lady Whirlwinds breezed past Central in the finals to win the four-team event.
Sophomore guard Alyssa Weems led the way for L-E with nine points while junior guard Ebonie Ross was next for Von Duncan’s charges with five points.
L-E wrestlers head to Border Duals:
The Lugoff-Elgin wrestling team will participate in the two-day Border Duals at South Pointe High School in Rock Hill today and Saturday, Jan. 2 and 3.
NC grapplers travel to Newberry
: The North Central wrestling team will take to the highway to compete in the two-day Newberry Duals to be contested today and Saturday, Jan. 2 and 3 and hosted by Newberry High School.