Boys hoops roundup: Hawthorne takes charge late
Published: Saturday, February 9, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 10, 2013 at 12:26 a.m.
HAWTHORNE — If ever there was an example of how regular season results matter little in the postseason, the Hawthorne Hornets saw it firsthand Saturday night in the District 6-1A final.
During the regular season, Hawthorne crushed Hilliard in its two meetings by 47 and 38 points. That mattered little Saturday with a first-round home playoff berth on the line at the Hornets' home gym.
Senior forward Leamond Wilson scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half, sparking an 8-0 closing run to turn a tight contest into a 64-54 district-clinching win for No. 2 Hawthorne.
“I told the guys this week in practice, no matter if you beat a team by 20, 30 or 40 during the season, in the playoffs everyone else steps their game up,” Hornets coach Greg Bowie said of Hilliard. “I knew they would come in with a great effort tonight. They played well.”
The game was tight throughout with the Red Flashes (16-8) leading by as much as five points and the Hornets (26-1) leading by the same during the opening three periods. But as the fourth began, the teams were tied at 39-all.
A three-point play by Tre' Hawkins, who finished with 13 second-half points, put Hilliard ahead 46-41 early in the final period. But the Hornets answered, going on an 9-1 run, behind the play of Wilson and Deandre Turner, to move ahead 50-47 with 4:22 left.
The Red Flashes pulled within a basket three times and were down 56-54 with 1:42 to go when Wilson stepped up for the Hornets, hitting a pair of free throws, stealing the ball for an easy layup and swatting away a Hilliard shot.
The Red Flashes didn't score another point down the stretch.
Sophomore forward Ed Porter had 16 points and 15 rebounds for the Hornets, who have won 12 straight heading into their regional semifinal game at home against Live Oak Melody Christian on Feb. 19. Nick Chisholm added 10.
Hilliard was led by Jansen Allen with 17.
“I told them I hope they got this out of their system because it is only going to get tougher in the playoffs,” said Bowie, whose team played in the 1A state final last year, losing to Chipley.
DISTRICT 2-5A: At Live Oak, Jimmie Taylor III had a game-high 24 points, but visiting Tallahassee Rickards jumped on the Bulldogs early and never let go, beating Suwannee 60-49.
With the district final loss, Suwannee (18-6) will play at District 1 champion Panama City Rutherford (25-3) in Thursday's regional quarterfinal.
DISTRICT 5-1A: At Mayo, Melody Christian Academy had three players in double figures, but couldn't overcome a seven-point deficit heading into the fourth period, falling a basket short in a 49-47 loss to Hamilton County.
With the district final loss, the Tigers (13-10) will play at Hawthorne (26-1) in the regional semifinals on Feb. 19.
District 4-6A: Jacksonville Atlantic Coast, Wolfson defeated Columbia, 61-35 in the title game.
Columbia fell to 16-7. The Tigers will be at Fort Walton Beach High in Thursday's regional, while Wolfson hosts Crestview.