West Wilkes is a basketball team with the “ability to quickly catch fire” offensively, according to Head Coach Scottie Greene.
And after an ice cold start to the second half in the Blackhawks’ come-from-behind 55-52 nonconference victory over visiting North Iredell, Greene’s team did just that.
The ’Hawks caught fire over a four-minute stretch late in the final period that ultimately decided the game. And that run turned a nine-point deficit into a three-point lead with 53 seconds left on the clock.
“It can happen at any moment,” said Greene after his team improved to 2-1 for the winter.
“What you saw tonight is a testament to these boys and to how hard they play,” added Greene. “It was like someone put a lid on the basket after halftime on our end for awhile there, but we continued to bust our chops out there on the floor and finally made good things happen.”
The main catalysts in the late-game ’Hawks’ run were starter Jacob Brown and Dylan Miller off the bench. Brown ended up with a game-high 20 points and Miller chipped in 12 more, and their combined scoring effort bookended the big late run.
First, after the Raiders had gone up 48-39 following an offensive rebound and put back by Beckham Tharpe, Miller responded with a short corner jumper from the left side.
Two hoops apiece from Brown and Jackson Stinson came next and a steal and full-court layup by the speedy Brown tied the contest up at 48-apiece.
After North Iredell’s Jackson Hawkins missed a jumper in the lane Brown gave his team the lead for good with a 3-pointer from just right of the top of the key.
“He’s an unbelievable player,” said Greene of his senior point guard. “First off, he’s our floor general. We all depend on him to do a lot. But he’s also a kid who loves the game, who continues to work on his game, to watch film and to get better each and every day.”
Greene also heaped praise on Miller, who poured in eight points in the second period alone after coming in early in a reserve role.
“We’ve talked to Dylan since the preseason about taking on a role as a sparkplug,” smiled Greene. “There’s no quit in Dylan. He hustles, he dives on the floor…anything we need him to do. All he talks about is doing those types of things that help the team.”
Miller can also shoot and the junior sank two triples in the second quarter to keep the Hawks in command until the intermission, when the home team enjoyed a 34-29 advantage.
But West Wilkes then scored only five points in the third. And three of those points came off a desperation 3-point heave at the buzzer by Brown that was made despite pressure from North Iredell’s Tharpe and Hunter Nicholson.
Down three after Brown’s late trey, North Iredell had chances in the game’s final minute to try and close the gap. Hawkins hit a tough lay-up with 43 ticks on the clock while being fouled, but he couldn’t hit the possibly game-tying and-one opportunity.
Then, with 6.4 seconds to play, Hawkins missed a layup from the left that rolled tantalizingly off the side of the rim.
The game finally ended after one last shot — this time from North’s Tanner Sherrill from the deep right wing — went wide and deep and landed as the final whistle sounded.
North Iredell dropped to 2-1 with the loss. Hawkins scored 12 to pace the visitors, while Tharpe and Nicholson added 10 each.
After celebrating Thanksgiving break with several days off, the two teams will be featured in a rematch next Tuesday in Olin.