The Blackhawks rode their defense and the hot hands of juniors Jamesyn Bell and Jamilyn Wilcox to pull back into a tie for first place and keep their conference championship hopes alive, Friday night in Millers Creek.

With Ashe County’s 54-44 win at Wilkes Central, West Wilkes, Wilkes Central, Alleghany and Ashe County are all tied for first with one game to play, all with 10-3 conference records. As many as three of those teams could finish the season in first place.

The final regular-season games are Tuesday. West Wilkes plays at Ashe County, Alleghany hosts Starmount and Wilkes Central plays at Elkin.

The Blackhawks led only 11-10 after one quarter on a pair of free throws from Wilcox. But they used a 14-3 run in the first five minutes of the second quarter to take control of the game.

Kendall Stanley hit a jumper from the corner, then assisted on Bell’s 3-pointer for a 17-10 lead.

The Trojans got as close as 19-13 on Abigail Keesling’s runner in the lane and a free throw from Taylor Allen.

But Skyler McPherson hit a jumper off a Kacey Triplett assist, then Triplett scored off a Parker Childress assist and Carson Ledford scored inside off an assist from Bell. All three baskets were set up by turnovers—Alleghany had six in the second quarter.

Ledford’s basket inside made it 27-19 at halftime.

The Trojans—who were held to a season low in scoring—cut the lead to 31-23 on Allen’s basket off a MacKenzie Russell assist three minutes into the third quarter. But Bell scored inside off an assist from Ledford, and four possessions later, a turnover set up the second of Bell’s three 3-pointers, good for a 37-24 lead.

Bell hit a 3-pointer opening the fourth quarter and added a short jumper from the corner for a 42-26 lead.

Bell had a season-high 16 points and Wilcox added 15. Ledford had eight to go with six rebounds.

Keesling led Alleghany with 14 points, and Allen added nine.

Stinson shines, Blackhawks roll

Senior Jackson Stinson scored a game-high 23 points, and the Blackhawks pulled away in the third quarter to keep their faint conference championship hopes alive.

Wilkes Central beat Ashe County Friday, and Starmount’s home game with North Wilkes was postponed until Monday due to weather issues.

The Blackhawks trail Wilkes Central by a full game and Starmount by a half-game. West Wilkes would have to win at Ashe County, Wilkes Central would have to lose at Elkin Tuesday and Starmount would have to lose to either North Wilkes or at Alleghany for the Blackhawks to have a share of the championship.

Trailing by 10 after one quarter, the Trojans used a 17-6 run to take a 26-24 lead on Jared Foley’s steal and basket with 4:23 left in the half. But the Blackhawks turned two turnovers in the final minute into baskets by Jacob Brown and took a 30-26 lead at halftime.

Stinson and Austin Triplette had driving baskets in the opening minute-plus of the third quarter to start what would become a 10-2 run capped by Dylan Miller’s follow shot good for a 40-28 lead.

The Trojans wouldn’t cut the lead below 10 points again.

Brown backed Stinson with 15 points and Jaden Wentz added 11.

Foley led Alleghany with 10 points.

(Look for a full story, complete with statistics and coaches’ quotes, in the next issue of the Wilkes Journal-Patriot.)

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