Hawthorne loses in state semifinal
Published: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, February 26, 2013 at 2:47 p.m.
LAKELAND — After an unexpected push into the state final a year ago, the top-ranked Hawthorne Hornets did something else unexpected Tuesday in the Class 1A state semifinals at The Lakeland Center.
Fourth-ranked Bonifay Holmes County — led by 6-foot-10 UF signee Chris Walker’s 13 blocks, 13 rebounds and 20 points — upset Hawthorne, 51-48, and will face Greensboro West Gadsden on Wednesday afternoon for the 1A state title. It will be the first time both teams play in a state final.
The Blue Devils (19-9), who upset No. 2 Malone in the Region 1 finals, trailed only once in the game and led by as much as 12 (46-34) midway in the fourth period.
But Hawthorne (28-2), which came in with a 14-game winning streak, got back-to-back 3-pointers from Jayquan Hamilton and Bryson Pittman to pull within one, 49-48, with 14.1 seconds left.
After a pair of Holmes County free throws, the Hornets failed to get a good shot in the waning seconds to force overtime.
It wasn’t so much Walker’s points that hurt Hawthorne, it was his inside presence and his blocking ability that severely limited the Hornets’ ability to get inside.
“They played solid. I don’t want to discredit them, their guards played pretty tough,” said Hornets coach Greg Bowie. “Defensively, they were able to pack in their zone all night. We didn’t hit many outside shots.
“We know Chris is a special talent. Those 13 blocks I think affected us a lot.”
Sophomore Ed Porter had a team-high 16 points and seven rebounds for Hawthorne. Hamilton added 11 points.
“I just wanted him to work for everything he got,” Porter said of Walker. “I think that is what happened. You can’t back away from Chris. That is what we tried to do. We tried our hardest to rattle him up, but at the end of the day, we didn’t get the job done.”
The Hornets had just four points in the first quarter and 16 for the half, trailing by seven (23-16) at intermission.
Hawthorne pulled within three a couple of times in the third and were down 34-32 after Porter’s two free throws late in the period.
Holmes County scored the first six points in the fourth.
“Coming into the season, our goal was to win it all, not to just get here,” Bowie said. “Last year we got here was kind of unexpected. This year, we had a target on our back. To have 28 wins is good for the fans, but as the coach I’m somewhat disappointed to not win it all.”
Contact Larry Savage at 352-374-5050 or firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/sunpreps